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'Friday Night Lights' creator asks Romney to drop key line

October 12, 2012|By James Rainey
  • Mitt Romney is giving a campaign-trail twist to an inspirational slogan from the TV series "Friday Night Lights" as he rides an upswing in polls after last week's debate. The coach of the football team at fictional West Dillon High School in rural Texas would build up the Panthers by saying, "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!"
Mitt Romney is giving a campaign-trail twist to an inspirational slogan… (Bill Records / AP Photo/NBC )

The creator of television’s “Friday Night Lights” wrote to Mitt Romney on Friday asking the Republican presidential candidate to stop using an inspirational phrase from the popular series.

“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” was a regular refrain on the show about football in small town Texas. Romney worked the line into his stump remarks, particularly as he told stories about works of compassion he had undertaken for members of his church.

But Peter Berg, creator of the television show, asked Romney to stop using the words. “Your politics and campaign are clearly not aligned with the themes we portrayed in our series,” Berg wrote.

Romney used the expression recently in recounting the story of 14-year-old David Oparowski. The boy was dying of cancer and had asked Romney to help him prepare a will. The phrase also appeared last week as a headline on a fundraising appeal by Ann Romney on the campaign website.

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Berg said use of the expression “falsely and inappropriately” associated the GOP campaign with the hit television show.

He said the only character on the show who might appropriately be associated with Romney would be the character of the car salesman, Buddy Garrity, who gives up on American autos to sell Japanese makes.

Berg made no threat of legal action and it’s hard to imagine how he would, although the director described Romney’s use of the phrase as “plagiarism.” Berg concluded the four-paragraph letter: “Please come up with your own campaign slogan.”

Berg’s bit of political agitprop marks a split in the “Friday Night Lights” family, since Buzz Bissinger — writer of the book that became the basis for the TV show — recently wrote an essay saying he would break with his liberal habit and support Republican Romney.

It’s not unusual for candidates, particularly conservative Republicans, to take guff from the creative community for appropriating their work. Normally singers and songwriters do the complaining, as in August when the rock group Twisted Sister asked Romney to stop using their anthem “We’re Not Gonna Take It” at campaign events.

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james.rainey@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesrainey

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