ATX Television Festival 2015: Gilmore Girls
Photos mostly by Lauren Logan with two by Kelly E. Lindner
Gilmore Girls is my all-time favorite show, and the reunion was far and away the thing I was most excited about during ATX. The event itself exceeded every single one of my expectations. I do think it’s worth noting, however, that if ATX continues to grow as a festival and host events of this magnitude, they need to take some cues (and queue cards) from SXSW on logistics for seating large venues. SXSW utilizes the historic Paramount Theatre and its more than 1,200 seats each year for multiple screenings, and while handling long lines and rabid fans can be brutal for volunteers and staff, proper protocol helps keep everyone safe and calm. I’ve stood in many, many long snaking lines outside the Paramount during SXSW, and never in those times have I seen multiple ambulances called to the scene because people began to pass out after hours of being jammed together in a shoulder-to-shoulder clump in the blazing hot sun, primarily because the lines weren’t sufficiently organized. (This post describes the line problem quite well.)
Logistics aside, when the lights came up and creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and actors Lauren Graham (Lorelai Gilmore), Alexis Bledel (Rory Gilmore) and Kelly Bishop (Emily Gilmore) stepped out onto that stage, all line-related grievances were forgotten if not forgiven. The reunion kicked off with the Gilmore Girls title sequence, and the packed house chimed in on Carole King’s “Where You Lead” before the first round of discussion kicked off. Sherman-Palladino shared that the show’s genesis came during a meeting with network executives when the last pitch she gave before walking out the door was about a mother/daughter duo who were more like friends than mother/daughter. That’s all she had, but the execs went for it, and she got to work fleshing out the idea. A trip to a small inn in Connecticut colored the creation of both the Stars Hollow setting and Lorelai’s career as the manager of the Independence Inn. The three Gilmore Girls themselves shared how they came to the project. Bledel was the first one signed, and the former model landed the part on only her fifth or sixth audition ever. Sherman-Palladino attributed this in part to the fact that Bledel was sick during the audition, resulting in a surly attitude that hooked Sherman-Palladino. Graham was cast last, and it turned out just to be coincidence that both actresses had dark hair and blue eyes. Bishop wanted the part for ages and after rounds of auditions had all but given up on it when she finally found out she got it.
The four panelists touched on the loss of Ed Hermann, who died of brain cancer on December 31. Hermann played Gilmore patriarch Richard to perfection in all seven seasons of the show and was also known for a long and storied acting career that included roles in everything from The Paper Chase to The Purple Rose of Cairo to The Aviator. Sherman-Palladino shared that Hermann was in fact the first actor to sign on to the reunion panel, and an empty armchair was left on stage in his honor. She also put together clips of some of his best moments on the show, including this one that always makes me teary.
Following the tribute, the curtains behind the screen opened to reveal a backdrop that included signs for Stars Hollow, Luke’s Diner, the Dragonfly Inn, Miss Patty’s, Kim’s Antiques and Doose’s Market as the other panelists joined the discussion. These included co-executive producer Daniel Palladino and actors Scott Patterson (Luke Danes), Milo Ventimiglia (Jess Mariano), Keiko Agena (Lane Kim), Yanic Truesdale (Michel Girard), Liza Weil (Paris Geller), Matt Czuchry (Logan Huntzberger), Liz Torres (Miss Patty), Jared Padalecki (Dean Forester), Danny Strong (Doyle McMaster), Jackson Douglas (Jackson Bellville), Todd Lowe (Zack Van Gerbig) and John Cabrera (Brian Fuller). As a starting point for the discussion, the actors who played Rory’s three main love interests (Jess, Dean and Logan) were asked who they thought Rory should be with. Ventimiglia and Padalecki chose each other (Team Dean and Team Jess, respectively), with Ventimiglia adding that “Logan was a dick.” The actors expanded on the fact that they’re all friends so it’s hard for them to root against each other until eventually Patterson chimed in, quite rightly, that “None of them were good enough for Rory.”
Next, each actor was asked where their character would be now. The best answer came from Truesdale, who hilariously said, “I never understood what Michel was doing in that town anyway.” Fans will be happy to know that both Weil and Strong were confident Paris and Doyle would still be together and kicking ass. Lowe gave his character an epic rock-star homecoming, much like his own homecoming to Austin, where he attended the University of Texas at Austin and used to serve lattes. Agena suggested that although Lane probably wanted to be more like Lorelai as she raised her twins, she was probably more like her own domineering mother, Mrs. Kim. When Patterson began speculating that Luke would be out on a lake teaching fly-fishing and running a tackle shop, Graham interrupted to ask what we all were thinking—”And does he have a girlfriend?” Graham herself said she is 100-percent convinced that Luke and Lorelai would be married. Douglas joked that Jackson’s vasectomy would never have taken and he’d now be “farming children.” As for Rory’s love interests, Czuchry said that wherever Logan was, he probably wasn’t working, while Padalecki suggested that Dean’s work ethic would’ve led him to eventually take over Doose’s Market when Taylor when he retired. As for Jess, Ventimiglia said, “I think Jess is just out being Jess and walking away when too many people showed up.” Rory, according to Bledel, would be out working as a journalist while Bishop sadly admitted that she had a hard time picturing what Emily’s life would be like now that she would be a widow.
As for those famous four words that Sherman-Palladino had in mind for the series finale (she left the show at the end of the sixth season and wasn’t involved in the show’s final season), we’re no closer to learning what those might be. When asked about the possibility of a Gilmore Girls movie, Sherman-Palladino probably broke a few hearts by setting the record straight that nothing is currently in the works while insisting that if it were to happen, the show would have to be honored with the right budget and script. “The good news is that nobody here hates each other,” she said with a laugh.
While I could probably cram 85 minutes of gushing about the Gilmore Girls reunion into one hour if I talk fast enough, I think I’ll let the photos speak for themselves: