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Exclusive: 'Friday Night Lights' Cuts Two Players

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Fnl_l I’ve been dreading this day. Ever since Friday Night Lights

odds-defying renewal (thanks, DirecTV!), pessimistic fans like myself

have been waiting for the other cleat to drop. And now we can stop

waiting. Sources confirm to me exclusively that two of the show’s MVPs,

Gaius Charles (Smash) and Scott Porter (Jason), have been taken off

contract and will only appear on a recurring basis in Season 3.

In a just-released statement, exec producer Jason Katims says, “Pete Berg, myself and our fellow producers have enormous respect for Scott and Gaius both as actors and individuals. In short, we love them. However, both of their characters have now graduated and in the creative spirit of the show, we have decided to give them powerful four episode arcs that will observe their characters as they launch themselves into the next phase of their lives. We certainly will keep the door open for both actors to return in the future, depending on the actors’ availabilities. We know both Scott and Gaius will go on to have enormous success and we wish the best for both of them.”

Total bummer, I know, but not a complete surprise. In the case of

Smash, Katims conceded that finding a way to

justify hanging onto his college-bound running back would be difficult.

“The Smash story definitely creates a challenge for us,” he told me

back in May. “He will presumably have graduated [when we return in the

fall]. It’s definitely going to require some finessing and the right

balance between taking the right amount of poetic license, but not

doing anything that would question the authenticity and believability

that is so important to our show.”

Similarly, maintaining the viability of Jason – the Panthers’

ex-starting quarterback who was left paralyzed by a Season 1 injury –

has also presented challenges. One possible exit strategy has Jason

leaving Dillon to start a new life with his pregnant girlfriend.

One thing you can be sure of: Katims remains committed to bringing both

characters’ storylines to a satisfying conclusion. As one insider

assures, “He has too much respect for the fans — as well as both actors

— to leave them hanging like that.”

I would expect nothing less from Katims. But enough about me, I’m anxious to hear from you, my fellow FNL

loyalists: Sad to see Smash and Jason go? Comforted by the fact that

they’ll at least be around long enough to wrap up their storylines?

Praying FNL gets some long overdue Emmy love when nominations are announced next Thursday? Comment below!