It may not have elaborate costumes or a Miss Patty-choreographed dance routine, but for one shining hour this weekend, EW PopFest was a true Stars Hollow festival.
Series creator/executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino and executive producer Dan Palladino took the stage on Saturday to share some exclusive new footage and to talk (and talk fast) to EW’s Samantha Highfill about the Gilmore Girls revival that will be hitting your Netflix queue in a big way on Nov. 25.
The duo shared six never-before-seen clips from the upcoming four-part Netflix revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, and the PopFest audience got to revisit the Dragonfly Inn, where Michel checked in some guests; sit in on a town meeting, presided over by Taylor Doose at his most wonderfully insufferable; and get a peek at Stars Hollow’s International Food Festival, where Kirk had the unfortunate task of explaining to Taylor why only 15 out of 195 countries were represented (“Brazil’s niece had a soccer game, Turks and Caicos got a foot fungus, and Singapore’s just being a dick”).
The unlikely pairing of Luke and Emily took center stage for one of the clips, in which the Gilmore matriarch grilled Stars Hollow’s surliest diner owner over whether he had a will, because “if you go first, and your affairs aren’t in order, it all comes crashing down on my daughter’s head” — which provides additional confirmation of Luke and Lorelai’s resumed relationship, which we glimpsed in the trailer. Walking into Richard’s study for their chat, Emily says, “I still smell Richard’s cigars. I like that smell,” serving as a sad reminder of the death of actor Edward Herrmann; Sherman-Palladino promised during the Q&A that Richard’s absence will be deeply felt in the new episodes.
And of course, we got some scenes with just Rory and Lorelai. Moving back into her Stars Hollow bedroom after living in Brooklyn (“Lena Dunham’s just going to have to get along without me”), Rory looks through her moving boxes for her “lucky outfit” — and her underwear — while Lorelai observes, “I think any outfit you wear without underwear is going to be a lucky outfit.”
”Can I just say, there is nothing more comfortable than sitting up here while other people watch your work,” Sherman-Palladino quipped after the footage. “Something at Gitmo, maybe, might be a little more delightful?” Her quick, reference-laden dialogue throughout the panel was unmistakably Gilmore-esque, and listening to her and Palladino talk about A Year in the Life almost felt like watching Lorelai and Rory banter about Cop Rock.
Though so much has stayed the same when it comes to Rory, Lorelai, and all the denizens of Stars Hollow, a lot has changed in the nine years since the series ended in the world of TV. To begin with, a revival in this unique format on a platform like Netflix wouldn’t have been conceivable in 2007. “It was an opportunity for us to do it in a nontraditional format,” Palladino says. “We came upon this idea to do four 90-minute movies, and that’s what really excited us about this.”
Though there had been whisperings of a revival for years, it didn’t seem completely possible until the cast reunited at ATX Festival in Austin last year. “Everybody was kind of semi-available at that point. We started talking to them about it, and everyone seemed really into it,” Palladino recalls. “Everyone still looked good,” Sherman-Palladino adds. “Very important.”
Luckily, writing Gilmore-speak came back to Sherman-Palladino as easily as ever. “This s—‘s in our DNA now,” she says. “A lot of it was still there. And anything that wasn’t still there we had a lot of young — like you f—ing people — we had a lot of very young, wide-eyed, sort of moony-eyed, Manson family, stalkery kind of girls working for us. And we could always say to them, like, ‘what color underwear did Luke…?’ ‘HE WORE PLAID! Except for season 5, in this one episode…’ That sort of thing. So we always had people around to remind us of the details.”
Rebuilding the physical world of Gilmore Girls was more of a challenge, since they didn’t have drawings or plans from the series to go by, so they based the new sets on watching old episodes (“kind of like Galaxy Quest,” Palladino explained, helpfully). Sherman-Palladino recalled that the first Gilmore house felt too small — “kind of like a dollhouse” — for Edward Herrmann, but the new one is much larger. “It was finally big enough for Ed, and he wasn’t there,” she said, adding, “Ed looms large. He loomed large in life, and he looms large over these episodes.”
As much as we love the girls, it’s the huge cast of supporting characters that truly gives Stars Hollow its quirky character, and much of the supporting cast will be back for the revival. “I think it’s always fun when you get the town together. Nothing good can come of that, which is always the most fun to write,” Sherman-Palladino said, so look forward to two town meeting scenes and at least one Stars Hollow festival.
While the studio was flexible letting the producers add bit characters — “they were like, ‘well, you haven’t set the house on fire yet, so go ahead’” when it came to new townies, Sherman-Palladino says — Warner Bros. was less enthusiastic about the Gilmore cameo choices. “When they wanted stunt casting, they wanted Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and we’re like, we’re going after Madeleine Albright,” Sherman-Palladino says. “It was very, very surreal to have Norman Mailer, author of The Executioner’s Song, talk about Sookie and what he was going to do on the show,” Palladino adds.
And fans who hated season 7 can breathe easy: Sherman-Palladino feels that they accomplished exactly what they set out to do with the new episodes. “Hopefully everybody will be delighted and thrilled and charmed,” she says. “If not, I don’t f—ing know what to tell you.”
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life debuts on Netflix on Nov. 25.