On The CW’s comedy-drama “Hart of Dixie,” returning with new episodes on Monday, Jan. 23, Bluebell, Ala., lawyer George Tucker (Scott Porter) is engaged to marry his high-school sweetheart, local belle Lemon Breeland (Jaime King).
But, there’s trouble brewing, since, unbeknownst to George, Lemon had a past fling with the town’s mayor, former NFL linebacker Lavon Hayes (Cress Williams), and the embers haven’t entirely died down on this particular romantic torch.
On Friday, Jan. 20, between takes at the exterior set for the Rammer Jammer Restaurant on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Calif., Porter laughs when he’s asked if it’s a cruel irony that his character’s girl has her eye on a football player — mirroring the situation on his earlier show, “Friday Night Lights,” in which the fiancee (Minka Kelly) of his character, paralyzed former top high-school quarterback Jason Street, cheated on him with his best friend and former Dillon Panthers teammate, Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch).
“It is!” he says. “At least it’s not another best-friend fullback, taking my girl.”
But he had mixed feelings when his favorite team drafted the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and high-profile Florida Gators QB, Tim Tebow, who later became the Broncos’ starting quarterback.
“I did not like it when he got drafted,” Porter says. “I just didn’t think it was the right choice, the right time.”
But before long, the 24-year-old Tebow — an outspoken Christian whose unorthodox playing style and six-game streak of cliffhanger victories this season earned him pop-superstar status and propelled the Broncos into the AFC playoffs (where they ran straight into the New England Patriots, who have since earned a Super Bowl berth) — began to change Porter’s mind.
“Once he became leader of the team,” Porter says, “I really felt the shift in the way the team fought and the way the team handled itself and carried itself. I think a lot of it has to do with him being a very strong leader, having a very strong moral center, being real to who he is and not being shy about that.
“A lot of people try to convey a personality that is not them. Sports is entertainment, and a lot of people try to make characters out of themselves. Tebow’s character is real, and I respect him. I think he deserves one more good year.
“With an off-season, which he didn’t have this year, I think there could be a lot of really positive changes. That slope that he’s climbing right now, making positive adjustments, can only get higher. I think he can get himself to a level where he can be a competitive quarterback week in and week out, not just in plays.
“For them to accomplish what they did this year, it was above and beyond my expectations, so I’m happy.”
Since “Hart of Dixie” is set in the South — and Tebow grew up in Florida — and the mayor is a former NFL player (and, of course, Porter was QB1 on “Friday Night Lights”), it seems almost a natural that the Broncos quarterback could make a cameo appearance on the show.
Asked about that, Porter says, “I’ll make a call and see if I can make it happen. He can play Harry, George’s brother. I’m serious. Tim Tebow should play Harry Tucker, George’s brother. He’s been mentioned before. He’s Harold Jr., the apple of Dad’s eye. He’s just like my dad followed in my dad’s footsteps.
“He might be able to do it.”
“They look alike,” says Williams when asked about casting Tebow as Porter’s sibling. “We could pull that off. It would be perfect for him, for sure. Awesome. That would be sweet. I’d love to get Tebow here.”
Williams then goes into a seated approximation of Tebow’s signature one-knee, forehead-on-fist prayer pose.
“Go down, Tebowing!” he says with a laugh. “It’d be fun.”