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‘Gilmore Girls’ Reunion Panel at ATX Television Festival Brings Stars Hollow Back to Life

Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Assistant Stage Editor

The cast of Gilmore Girls at the ATX Television Festival panel. Photo Credit: EW.com
The cast of Gilmore Girls at the ATX Television Festival panel. Photo Credit: EW.com

“Where you lead. I will follow. Anywhere that you tell me to. If you need, if you need me to be with you. I will follow, where you lead” Eight years ago the closed sign was hung on Luke’s Diner and fans had to say goodbye to Lorelai, Rory and the Stars Hollow gang when Gilmore Girls ended its run. On Saturday June 6, 2015, Gilmore Girls had a major, twitter-exploding reunion panel at ATX Television Festival in Austin, TX and it was everything Gilmore Girls fans wanted and more.

Gilmore Girls ran for seven seasons and followed single mother, Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) and her daughter, Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) and their adventures in the small, eccentric town of Stars Hollow, CT. As Rory goes from entering a rigorous private school to pursuing her dream as a newspaper reporter, her and Lorelai conquer every day life together. From first boyfriends to mending a broken relationship with Lorelai’s parents, Emily (Kelly Bishop) and Richard (Edward Herrmann), Gilmore Girls may go down as one of the greatest comedic and dramatic television shows of all time.

The lineup for the Gilmore Girls reunion event featured appearances by Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, Scott Patterson, Kelly Bishop, Liza Weil, Keiko Agena, Danny Strong, Matt Czuchry, Jackson Douglas, Todd Lowe, Liz Torres, Yanic Truesdale, John Cabrera, Jared Padalecki and Milo Ventimiglia.

Moderator Jessica Shaw, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel and Kelly Bishop at the Gilmore Girls ATX Reunion Panel. Photo Credit: EW.com
Moderator Jessica Shaw, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel and Kelly Bishop at the Gilmore Girls ATX Reunion Panel. Photo Credit: EW.com

The ATX Television Festival opened with the beloved Gilmore Girls theme song, “Where You Lead,” then the panel kicked off with the “original Gilmore Girls,” creator and writer Amy Sherman-Palladino, Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel and Kelly Bishop taking the stage. Sherman-Palladino recounted how she pitched the original idea of Gilmore Girls to The WB Network. She had pitched several ideas that day and none of them landed, she said, “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.’” And the rest was history. She said that the concept came from a trip she took to Connecticut where she visited Mark Twain’s house. Amy Sherman-Palladino went on to discuss when she knew the show was going to work. She said, “I knew from that dinner table scene in the pilot we had a show. That was Gilmore Girls.”

Graham, Bledel and Bishop discussed the casting process for Gilmore Girls. Graham talked about how she heard about the script but was already slated to be on an NBC show. When the time came around to audition for Gilmore Girls she said, “The first time I read it and something really clicked.” Graham continued by saying, “I was like, ‘Oooh this is mine. I can’t stand the idea of somebody else doing it.'” Bledel talked about how Gilmore Girls was the first time she ever auditioned for anything. She said, “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 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.” Bishop talked about how she doesn’t think she auditions well but when she got the script for Gilmore Girls, she said, “I knew who she was. I loved those words.”

Gilmore Girls is known for its very fast paced, pop-culture heavy dialogue. A usual drama script consists of 60 pages, an average Gilmore Girls script was closer to 85 pages. Lauren Graham talked about the fast-paced script by saying, “We almost never cut anything. We could never say, ‘You’re not going to use this scene.’ We just had to speed it up… ” Graham said the classic walking and talking scenes opposite Bledel were always the most challenging. “We’re almost near the end, don’t fall, don’t fall,” Graham would tell herself during the marathon scenes.

Matt Czuchry, Jared Padalecki and Milo Ventimiglia at the Gilmore Girls ATX Reunion Panel Red Carpet. Photo Credit: TVLine.com
Matt Czuchry, Jared Padalecki and Milo Ventimiglia at the Gilmore Girls ATX Reunion Panel Red Carpet. Photo Credit: TVLine.com

Gilmore Girls patriarch, Edward Herrmann passed away in December 2014 and the girls reminisced about what he brought to the role of Richard Gilmore. “We always knew we wanted Ed Hermann from the very beginning. That was the dream… It’s really crappy that he’s gone and we miss him so much,” Sherman-Palladino said. “I’m so grateful I got to hear him say my words … He was our Mr. President.” Herrmann was actually the first person to RSVP to the ATX Television Festival panel back in 2013 when they began to plan the event.

Then with thunderous applause the ATX Television Festival welcomed the entire cast of Gilmore Girls. The cast took the stage, which was decorated in a Stars Hollow fashion, and they left an empty chair for Edward Herrmann. The cast got right into things with Jared Padalecki, Milo Ventimiglia and Matt Czuchry, who played Rory’s boyfriends Dean, Jess and Logan respectively. The trio discussed who was best for Rory Gilmore. Ventimiglia declared that he was Team Dean and that “Logan was a d*ck,” while Padalecki and Czuchry said that they were both Team Jess. Scott Patterson, who played the lovable, diner-owner and Lorelai’s love-interest Luke Danes, chimed in by saying “None of you are good enough for Rory.”

Liza Weil, who played Rory’s nemesis and ultimately her friend Paris Geller, revealed that she originally auditioned for the role of Rory and that Sherman-Palladino and the rest of the creative team liked her so much that they wrote Paris for her. Also speaking to writing parts based on actors, Amy Sherman-Palladino discussed how she wrote the role of Jess for Milo Ventimiglia saying that she saw him in an unaired pilot and thought,  “I don’t care what the character is, I just want him.” Matt Czuchry also had a part written for him. He said, “I actually auditioned twice for two different roles over the course of the year, and Logan,” Czuchry said.

Amy Sherman-Palladino, Jared Padalecki, Kelly Bishop, Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham and Scott Peterson at the Gilmore Girls ATX Reunion Panel. Photo Credit: TODAY Show/NBC
Amy Sherman-Palladino, Jared Padalecki, Kelly Bishop, Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham and Scott Patterson at the Gilmore Girls ATX Reunion Panel. Photo Credit: TODAY Show/NBC

Gilmore Girls fans of course were waiting on bended-knee for any mention of a future for Luke and Lorelai. When poised the question, where do the stars see their characters now? Scott Patterson said that Luke either stayed in town or moved to a lake where he reopened Luke’s dinner, but it’s a bait and tackle shop. Of course, Lauren Graham knows how to send fans into a panic attack when she retorted with “Does he have a girlfriend?” to which Patterson replied, “Lorelei is coming out for a fishing lesson.” Graham went onto add that Luke and Lorelai’s storyline didn’t end for her  “in a satisfying way. … It didn’t really end.” She thinks they’re “100%” together wherever they may be. As reported on by EW.com, Producer Dan Palladino spoke to the Luke and Lorelai relationship by stating, “A big decision we had to make was when were Lorelai and Luke 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.” At the end of the Gilmore Girls panel fans were able to ask questions. One of the final questions of the evening came from a young fan when he asked the question, did Luke and Lorelai get married? Graham responded with a whole-hearted “I think they probably did!” Cue swooning and sobbing from Gilmore Girls fans everywhere.

The other big relationships throughout Gilmore Girls were Rory’s relationships with Dean, Jess and Logan. Amy Sherman-Palladino talked about Rory’s emotional growth and her relationships. She specifically talked about the big milestone of Rory losing her virginity and what went into the decision of making it Dean, her first boyfriend. Sherman-Palladino said, “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.”

Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in the Gilmore Girls episode "They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?" Photo Credit: Warner Bros
Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in the Gilmore Girls episode “They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They?” Photo Credit: Warner Bros

Fans to this day still quote lines from Gilmore Girls to Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel. Graham said that “Oy with the poodles” is one of the lines that gets quoted to her most often. She ponders, “Why did I say it and why did you like it so much?” Bledel said she wasn’t sure what the most popular line from Rory was and an audience member screamed “Copper Boom!” A line that Bledel has no recollection of saying and doesn’t remember the context of.

Since Gilmore Girls ended eight years ago, fans have been anxiously awaiting for a Gilmore Girls movie. With rumors constantly flying around about a feature film being in the works, it was bound to come up at this ATX Television Festival. Early in the panel Kelly Bishop discussed the prospect of more Gilmore Girls by saying, “Collectively we’re going to make this happen!” Later in the panel, Scott Patterson chimed in on the subject saying, “I think it’s about time!” Amy Sherman-Palladino said, “there’s nothing in the works, but 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.” The entire casted chimed in saying they would totally be down for a movie/reunion if the circumstances were right.

The panel concluded at ATX with some fan questions from the audience. Amy Sherman-Palladino said that if she pitched the concept for Gilmore Girls today it wouldn’t have been picked up. She went onto say that Gilmore Girls was a once in a lifetime experience. She said, “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.”

Gilmore Girls is being introduced to an entire new generation of fans through the magic of Netflix. So, whether you are an old fan or a new fan, enjoy sitting in Luke’s Diner with Lorelai and Rory for 45 minutes as they eat junk food, spew out pop-culture reference and share unforgettable memories.

Note: Quotes were taken from the EW.com Live Blog. For more info from inside the event visit: http://www.ew.com/article/2015/06/06/gilmore-girls-reunion-panel-live-blog

For more info on the ATX Television Festival visit: http://www.atxfestival.com/

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