MONDO EXTRAS

The Wonder Years

by Daniel Manu January 23, 2009
The Peter Berg Interview

TWoP: As you were building a career as a working actor, was directing and producing always the ultimate goal?

PB: Yes. I was directing movies in high school -- I took a Super-8 filmmaking class. And then in college I continued on -- there was a video production class at our school. I moved to L.A. with the intention of going to film school and just got sidetracked and started doing some plays, and so I started acting and I was doing it when I was young and it was fun, but my goal was always to move into the other side.

TWoP: And you've also written or co-written the majority of your directing-producing projects. How important is to you to have that soup-to-nuts creative control?

PB: It's very important to me, and I think it just ties back to what I said earlier -- just understanding the material. And for me, a part of understanding the material is a) the research, and b) actually, if not writing the original script, at least taking a pass at it so that I can internalize it and kind of make it my own. Otherwise I feel like I'm a little bit lost.

TWoP: Friday Night Lights is one of those shows that's beloved by practically everyone who's ever seen it, and acclaimed by almost every critic, yet has struggled in the ratings throughout its existence. Is it possible for you to remain proud of the work without feeling dispirited that more people haven't caught on to it

PB: I don't know... I wouldn't say I'm dispirited... I'm only dispirited if it prevents us from getting picked up, you know? In other words, I'm happy that we have generated enough numbers through Nielsen ratings and TiVo and now sites like Hulu to keep the show coming back, and I get enough love off of the show when I'm traveling around the country to know that people are watching it. I love the show, and at this point I'm as much a cheerleader as anyone. Jason Katims is running the show, and we talk regularly, but it's his creative vision at this point. And I'm a huge fan of what he's doing, and I'm not sure that if our ratings were much higher we'd be able to be doing the same kind of work. So I'm pleased with the show, and I think that's the most important thing.

TWoP: And you've also said recently that you think the show could have a future beyond this third season, which already aired on DirecTV and is now airing on NBC.

PB: Yeah, I always felt that way. I mean, I think that for the first time it's as much our decision as it is their decision, if that makes sense to you.

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