The ninth-year Longhorn coach snagged a bit-part in opening episode because his daughter is in the film industry in Los Angeles. Peter Berg, who directed the 2004 movie version of H.G. Bissinger's bestseller, also wrote and directed the pilot episode. Instead of Odessa, the series is set in the fictionalized town of Dillon, Texas. Brown portrays the father of an athlete on first-year coach Eric Taylor's Panther High football team. Brown's screen time, filmed in late April, amounts to little more than 30 seconds. But the PR the segment could score with prep coaches in the Lone Star State is immeasurable.
"We thought it would be good for high school football in this state," Brown said. "I thought the part would help show the pressure on high school football coaches in our state. Everybody thinks the pressure is just on college coaches. It's not. High school football coaches in this state have every bit as much, or more, pressure than college coaches, and they don't get paid near as much."
The series used Pflugerville High as the backdrop when filming on-location in central Texas. Brown sets up his scene this way: it's the night before the first game for the Dillon Panthers. Brown is part of a group of over-zealous fathers of players who confront Coach Taylor (played by Kyle Chandler) and offer volumes of unsolicited advice.
"There wasn't a script," Brown said. "Peter Berg said that I've heard fathers for 33 years so I would know what to say."
As such, Brown gives Coach Taylor a verbal beatdown.
"I was hard on him," Brown recalled. "We were giving him a rough time about how he better be working harder and he better win."
Afterwards, Kyle told Brown privately, "I hope it's not really like that for you."
There are a couple of other Longhorn connections in the premiere.
Former Texas QB Jon Aune is part of the group of fervent fathers who, along with Brown, confront Coach Taylor. (Texas fans will remember Aune as the second QB to be injured against Oklahoma in 1977 before third-teamer Randy McEachern and Heisman-winning RB Earl Campbell rallied the troops toward a 13-6 win). In addition, those arching spirals shown during Panther practices and games did not come courtesy of a Hollywood actor. Credit former Texas QB James Brown for those tosses that were edited into each segment.
Given the recent trend where actors received Emmy Award nominations for less than 90 seconds of film-time, is there any buzz that Brown could be hoisting Hollywood hardwire for a Best Supporting role?
"They told me that I better keep my day job," Brown said.
Meanwhile, former Texas QB Vince Young's new reality TV show isn't far behind. "Next Level: Vince Young" premieres 8:30 p.m. (CDT) Wednesday, on BET-TV. The weekly series chronicles Young's transition from his national championship senior season to his rookie year with the Tennessee Titans.