After eight years, the Gilmore Girls are back together! At the ATX Television Festival’s main event Saturday night in Austin, Texas, the cast and producers the beloved The WB mother-daughter dramedy held a Stars Hollow town hall reunion. The line to get inside the State Theater wrapped around the block as eager fans tried to get into the Entertainment Weekly sponsored event, but you can get a front-row-seat covering what happened right here.
Our No. 1 question: At a time when so many favorite shows being revived … could Gilmore Girls ever receive a second life and give fans a more satisfying ending?
7:31 p.m.: Panel was supposed to start at 7 p.m. but things are running late. That’s what happens when you have more than a dozen TV stars walking a red carpet. A few cast members like Jared Padalecki and Milo Ventimiglia venture into the theater. Screams, screams, screams from the crowd….
7:40 p.m.: Lights go down. The Gilmore Girls opening credits plays. The audience sings along.
7:43 p.m.: Arielle Kebbel, who played Dean’s former flame Lindsay Lister, takes the stage to introduce the executive directors of ATX Festival, Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson, who teared up ahead of the panel. “Gilmore Girls have been on our list for four years [to bring the festival],” McFarland said.
7:46 p.m.: EW Morning Live’s Jessica Shaw takes the stage, followed by Amy Sherman-Palladino, Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel and Kelly Bishop.
7:50 p.m.: Sherman-Palladino recounts how she first pitched the show during a meeting with The WB. She met with executives and went through her ideas, which the network wasn’t interested in. “And the last thing I said was, ‘I have an idea about a mother and daughter who are more like friends and they said, ‘I’ll buy that.'” Except that was literally all Sherman-Palladino had. “I was like, ‘I have no idea what that is!’ … She went on a weekend holiday, “and we were staying at an inn and I thought, ‘Maybe [the mother] works at an inn?'” … “And by the time Monday came around, it all came into place,” she said, adding she wrote the pilot’s kitchen scene on the hotel’s stationary.
7:52 p.m.: Graham had heard about the Gilmore Girls script, but she was on another show on NBC. “Finally, they had seen other people, they said, ‘OK we know you’re on this other show, but will you come in and audition?'” she says. “The first time I read it and something really clicked.”
7:57 p.m. Bledel ran down how she was cast: “I was at NYU and I just became interested in acting. I was at their film school and I was modeling to help pay for school… I was at my last modeling job and it involved large Home Depot buckets of water being thrown at my head … I looked like poor, miserable, ‘Is this really happening?’ … I was thinking this modeling thing isn’t working out, plus I put on my freshman 15 so it really wasn’t working out … This was like my fifth or sixth audition—” Suddenly Graham interjects: “Ever!” Continues Bledel: “I really had no idea what I was doing … But [reading the script] I had the wonderful experience actors have when they have an instant connection. I knew who [my character] was. They had me come back like four or five times, and I got the job.”
7:58 p.m. “I don’t think I audition very well,” Bishop says. “You’re wrong,” Sherman-Palladino responds. “Because I love this like they did, I was looking at this like I own this woman,” Bishop continues. “I know who she is. I love these words.” Fortunately, Bishop had ample time to prepare for her audition. “I worked those scenes and worked them to the point where I actually knew them completely… I felt like it was a really good audition. I’ve always felt like I jinxed myself if I say it’s a really good script… but I couldn’t resist it and said it was a very good script.” However, Bishop didn’t hear back about the role for several weeks. “[My manager] called and it was like, ‘Oh yeah, she has the job.’ So I had the job.”
8:02 p.m.: Bledel was sick during her audition, so she was somewhat aloof. Sherman-Palladino thought, “She hates me! I love it!”
8:04 p.m.: “It was lucky the two of them had blue eyes and the hair. It was like pixie dust,” Sherman-Palladino says of finding the right Lorelei and Rory.
8:07 p.m.: There was a previously a Canadian Dean Forrester before Padalecki was cast. “There was another Dean. A Candian Dean. Two Canadian Deans. Then we realized you gotta go American,” Sherman-Palladino says, and also noted about her casting process: “Usually studios and networks give you a lot more shit for this. We were lucky, Warner Bros. got it. They got it the minute they got the script.”
8:09 p.m.: “I was never on my mark the first week of shooting,” Bledel says of being green when Gilmore Girls first started. She also learned that you always have a microphone on. “Like Robert Durst!” Graham responds.
8:12 p.m. Graham on the show’s super-sized scripts: “They were at least 20 pages longer [than usual drama scripts] …a script is usually 65 pages our were at least 85 We almost never cut anything. We could never say, ‘You’re not going to use this scene.’ We just had to speed it up. [Soon] every single person in the town was on whatever that thing is that makes you talk fast.” … But the pilot script was actually short and the dialogue was so quick, Sherman-Palladino says the pilot came in 15 minutes short—which they legally couldn’t put on the air—so they shot additional scenes.” Graham says the quick dialogue wasn’t too difficult. “You just fell in love,” she says. “It’s how it was. It was the pure page count per day. I have a really good memory, which then became a problem” when she was given script pages the day of when she was in the makeup trailer. Graham also says the walk-and-talks were very challenging. “We’re almost near the end, don’t fall, don’t fall,” Graham would tell herself during the marathon scenes.
8:16 p.m.: “I knew from the pilot we had the show,” Sherman-Palladino says. “I knew from that dinner table scene, there was no question about it.” The audience cheers approval. However, the first year was “particularly brutal” for Graham and Bledel because the writers were still constructing the town and expanding the world of Stars Hollow. “The two of them were in every f—ing scene,” Sherman-Palladino says, who said the actresses came to her and said: “We’re so tired. Is there anything you can do because we’re so tired?”
8:18 p.m.: “Oy with the poodles” is one of the lines that’s most quoted to her, says Graham. “Why did I say it and why did you like it so much?” Graham ponders. Shaw reminds them it’s to shut up yappy people. Bledel says she wasn’t sure what’s the most popular line for her character and somebody in the audience shouts out, “Copper boom!” The line confuses Bledel: “What’s copper boom?” she asked. “I say it? I said so many things!” The audience then explained her own, but she was still a bit confused. “But why those words?” she asks.
8:23 p.m.: “It’s really crappy that he’s gone and we miss him so much,” Sherman-Palladino says of the loss of Edward Herrmann, who died in December. “I think I speak for all of us in saying we were so surprised …. I’m so grateful I got to hear him say my words … He was a drinking, loving, knew everything in the world… he was our Mr. President.” Sherman-Palladino noted he was the first person in the cast to RSVP for the reunion panel, which shows how excited he was to be a part of this evening.
8:34 p.m.: The stage shifts to reveal a lot more seats. The rest of Stars Hollow takes the stage, including Scott Patterson, Liza Weil, Keiko Agena, Danny Strong, Matt Czuchry, Jackson Douglas, Todd Lowe, Liz Torres, Yanic Truesdale, John Cabrera, Jared Padalecki and Milo Ventimiglia. There’s also an empty chair on stage for Ed.
8:39 p.m.: Ventimiglia: “Team Dean.” Padalecki: “Team Jess.” Ventimiglia then drew roars by declaring: “Logan was a dick.” Czuchry: “Team Jess.” Patterson: “None of you are good enough for Rory.” Cheers.
8:40 p.m.: “We’re done, check it off,” Sherman-Palladino says when she first saw Scott Patterson. “It’s literally the stars align and the right person walks in the door… It was my turn that day to be really, really lucky.”
8:42 p.m.: The was an explosion of new fans once the show came out on Netflix. “Out of the woodwork, a new generation of fans started coming up to us in the streets,” Palladino says. “They were in the embryo when the show premiered.” The producer adds that Netflix also meant the show was available in widescreen format for the first time.
8:45 p.m.: Sherman-Palladino saw Ventimiglia in a pilot that didn’t move forward. “I don’t care what the character is, I just want him,” she says. “We got a lot of freedom in the casting of it.” She says casting Gilmore Girls was a “gut thing.”
8:47 p.m.: “I actually auditioned twice for two different roles over the course of the year, and Logan,” Czuchry says. Sherman-Palladino says: “We wrote a special scene to say, ‘This is the guy we want … I wrote something for you for nothing! I never do that. I’m totally mercenary.”
8:48 p.m.: What would happen if Empire’s Cookie wandered into Stars Hollow? “She would just mess shit up for everybody,” says actor-producer Danny Strong, who’s now working on the Fox mega-hit. “She would storm into rooms she’s not supposed to. It would be pretty crazy.”
8:49 p.m.: Where do the stars see their characters now? Luke either stayed in town or closed it down and moved to a lake where he reopened Luke’s dinner, but it’s a bait and tackle shop. “Does he have a girlfriend?” Graham asks. “Lorelei is coming out for a fishing lesson,” Patterson says.
8:52 p.m.: Where’s Paris now? “I like to think Paris and Doyle are still together,” Lisa Weil says. “I think they’re really well matched. I hope they’re supporting each other taking over the f—ing world.” Czuchry added: “Logan would not be working.”
8:54 p.m.: “I always thought Patty would run for mayor of Stars Hollow and end up winning,” Liz Torres says. “I thought she wouldn’t know what she’s doing.”
8:55 p.m.: Padalecki on his character’s fate: “I think Dean Forrester would probably worked long and hard at the market and probably would have taken over.”
8:56 p.m.: Strong on Danny: “I’d definitely be married to Paris still, and probably be a reporter working at a website. I think that’s about it… probably thinking everybody he was working for was an idiot, of course.”
8:58 p.m.: Daniel Palladino: “A big decision we had to make was when would Lorelei and Luke were going to be together. It was almost about midway through season four and we realized it was time. We were getting osmosis-like feedback from the audience that it’s time…we hit that and it opened up a brand new thread.”
8:59 p.m.: Sherman-Palladino: “The big one was when Rory was going to have sex. At the time everybody on TV was just f–king. I’m all for a bunch of little whores running around. We weren’t trying to make a statement. We were trying to play the truth of who she was. I didn’t want her to get drunk at a party and be like, ‘Woo, what happened?’ The studio was finally like, ‘seriously, she should have sex. What’s the deal, is she like a nun?’ … I wanted it to be Dean and I wanted them to not be together…Your first boyfriend can be like that ideal first boyfriend ….you have that, and struggle with that… and [there was] something about returning to that, and trying to recapture that, and especially when she’s floundering with her personal life.”
9:02 p.m.: “I just love the tension between them so much,” Graham says of Luke and Lorelei, noting there was always the worry that once they get together, it would change the dynamic. “But I think it was handled really well. For me, it didn’t end in a satisfying way. We weren’t sure it was the end. Amy wasn’t with us in the last season. I can’t answer it because it didn’t really end. It didn’t resolve satisfactorily.” However, she adds, “I think they’re together 100 percent.”
9:06 p.m.: “It couldn’t happen until we knew what was going to happen after,” Sherman-Palladino says on getting Luke and Lorelei together. “We were very stingy with events on Gilmore for a specific reason, because there’s so much to mine in characters. If you jump to that next moment, you’re going to lose three or four moments. It was important that when these two got together, there would still be conflict… It was a very calculated move to make sure we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot.”
9:05 p.m. Finally the question! Will there be a Gilmore Girls movie to wrap things up? Patterson, who inadvertently recently prompted some buzz around the subject, seemed a bit apologetic that he got so many fans excited. Yet also says: “It’s kinda time, don’t you think?” Sherman-Palladino says: “There’s nothing in the works at the moment. Here’s the good thing: Nobody here hates each other. It would have to be the right everything—the right format, the right timing, it would have to be honored in a certain way. And if it ever came around, we would all jump in and do it. And if it ever happened, I promise you I’d do it correctly.”
9:14 p.m.: The fan questions begin! On the show not having huge stakes: “Life is big,” Sherman-Palladino says. “Sometimes the average every day thing are more impactful that, ‘Oh my god, there’s a dinosaur coming down the road!’ We pitched that. We couldn’t afford the dinosaur.” Also, her motto from her Roseanne days: “Make the small big, make the big small.”
9:16 p.m.: Rory’s “I’m ready to wallow now,” was one of Daniel Palladino’s favorite lines.
9:20 p.m.: On the rift between Lorelei and Rory: “I remember not liking it,” Graham says. “I remember really struggling with it and feeling bad. It was difficult, as it should have been. It was hard, but it set up something that was also important.”
9:23 p.m.: Any regrets with story lines? “No, I’m too old to regret,” Sherman-Palladino says. “It’s going to get you someplace new and more interesting.”
9:25 p.m. Graham says that not only does she not watch repeats of Gilmore, but notes, “I haven’t watched myself on television since 1995. I’m not kidding. I don’t find it helpful.”
9:28 p.m.: What would happen if Sherman-Palladino pitched the show today? “They would validate my parking,” she says, reiterating what she shared earlier in the day.
9:31 p.m.: The cast admits there were some pop culture references that went over their head. Bledel had to ask Graham who the Waltons were. “It made me feel old,” Graham says. Fun fact: The house they shot on the backlot was a Waltons set.
9:34 p.m.: The cast was asked by a fan if they took anything from the show as keepsakes: “We didn’t know it was ending,” sighs Keiko Agena. “I would have stole so much!” Adds Daniel Palladino: “We’ve got the original Stars Hollow sign in my house.” And here’s Ventimiglia: “I’ve got Jess’ leather jacket.”
9:36 p.m.: Was the cast ever disappointed in a choice their character made? No, they were all very in tune with their characters, so much so that life imitated art at times. “I used to feel like my life was being robbed. I’d have a breakup and then there’d be an episode with a breakup,” Graham says.
9:38 p.m.: Shaw asks Sherman-Palladino how the show ranks for her among her work. “You get one in a career,” she says. “You get that one thing, that if everything else fails, and I wind up a big dumb drunk in a gutter, at least I got this. I used to say when I got Gilmore, that ‘it’s all downhill from here.’ There’s no way to top this experience, this cast, these leading ladies—and that’s okay. That’s what this business is. Some people get lucky and some don’t. And God I got so lucky.”
9:39 p.m: A young boy gets the final question. “We will not buy you beer,” Sherman-Palladino jokes. His actual question: Would Luke and Lorelei ever gotten married? “I think they probably did,” Graham says.