This weekend's ATX Fest hosted a major milestone: A reunion of (almost) the entire cast of "Gilmore Girls," including Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham, Kelly Bishop, Scott Patterson, Jared Padalecki, Milo Ventimiglia, Danny Strong, Jackson Douglas, Matt Czuchry, Keiko Agena, Liza Weil, Liz Torres, Sean Gunn, and Yanic Truesdale. (Sadly, Edward Herrmann, who played Grandpa Richard Gilmore, passed away last year. Melissa McCarthy, meanwhile, is off being an international superstar.) The beloved WB series will celebrate its 15th anniversary this year, and since a new generation of fans is now discovering the show on Netflix, festival organizers thought it was high time to get the Stars Hollow gang back together for some reminiscing.
In a panel moderated by Entertainment Weekly, as well as a separate one-on-one interview with creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, cast and crew spilled about their memories of shooting the pilot, which couples wound up together, and how Sherman-Palladino had to beg the network to cast a certain future Oscar nominee. Read on for some of the (many) highlights from the event below.
Sherman-Palladino didn't have a script -- or even a firm plot -- when she pitched the show to The WB
The creator recalled that when she met with WB execs, the only concept for the series was "a mother and daughter who are more like friends." When the network immediately expressed interest in buying the show, Sherman-Palladino had to scramble to write a pilot script, which she pounded out over a long weekend while staying at an inn. "I thought, 'Maybe [the mother] works at an inn?'" the creator told the crowd. "And by the time Monday came around, it all came into place."
That script immediately hooked leads Alexis Bledel, Lauren Graham, and Kelly Bishop
"The first time I read it and something really clicked," Graham said, while Bledel said she had "an instant connection" to Rory. "I was looking at this like I own this woman," Bishop recalled of her thought process while reading for the part of Emily. "I know who she is. I love these words."
All of the series's signature zippy dialogue (and copious pop culture references) made for some super-long scripts
"I turned in a pilot that was like 60-something pages," Sherman-Palladino said. "We shot it and we were 15 minutes short. Legally you cannot put the program on when it's that short. We had to shoot four extra scenes." Graham revealed that "Gilmore" scripts were "at least 20 pages longer [than usual drama scripts]," but that meant that "We just had to speed it up." (Graham also admitted that during especially difficult walk-and-talks, she was willing herself not to trip and fall.) As Sherman-Palladino explained to WB execs, "The way it's written, if you say this stuff slow, it's going to blow."
There was a touching tribute to Herrmann
Panelists took time to reflect on the loss of the actor, who died of cancer in December. An empty chair was left on the stage in his honor, and Sherman-Palladino revealed that he was the first cast member to RSVP for the ATX Fest reunion. "It's really crappy that he's gone and we miss him so much," the showrunner said. "I'm so grateful I got to hear him say my words."
The casting was serendipitous...
"It was lucky the two of them had blue eyes and the hair," Sherman-Palladino says of finding the right Lorelei and Rory. "It was like pixie dust." As for casting Scott Patterson as curmudgeonly diner owner Luke, the creator said she thought at the time, "It's literally the stars align[ing]." Sherman-Palladino also said she had her eye on actors Milo Ventimiglia and Matt Czuchry, who played Rory's boyfriends Jess and Logan, and specifically sought them out for the show.
...but Sherman-Palladino had to make a case for Melissa McCarthy to play lovable chef Sookie
Amazingly, the biggest star to come out of "Gilmore Girls" almost didn't make the casting cut. While McCarthy (who was off promoting her newest flick, "Spy," and couldn't attend the panel) was Sherman-Palladino's first choice for the part, it took some convincing for The WB to give the go-ahead. "To get Melissa, I had to fight," the showrunner said. "She had a different energy. The part was written for a woman, there was no body type. They just weren't sure. It was a tricky sell. It took a while. Everybody came around. It just took a few shows. She is different and different is sometimes not the easiest thing to embrace, but that's true of life. If we want people to embrace more Melissa McCarthys and more complicated parts... we have to keep writing the parts, fighting the fights and be willing to be fired to say, 'Mr. Person with Money, you're wrong.'"
Graham has never seen the series
"I haven't watched myself on television since 1995," Graham revealed. "I'm not kidding. I don't find it helpful."
Luke and Lorelai (probably) ended up together
The fate of Graham and Patterson's characters was left a bit up in the air when the series signed off in 2007 (though they did share a major kiss before the credits rolled). What ever happened to the on-again, off-again pair? Patterson thinks Luke may have closed his diner in Stars Hollow and relocated to a secluded lake, where he opened a baitshop. "Does he have a girlfriend?" Graham asked her former costar. "Lorelei is coming out for a fishing lesson," Patterson said. Later, Graham said she thinks "they're together 100 percent," and when asked by a fan if the pair ever married, the actress replied, "I think they probably did."
No one can agree on who Rory should have ended up with
All of the actors behind Rory's former boyfriends appeared at the event, and all had different ideas about who would make the best match for the younger Gilmore Girl. Jared Padalecki, who played first boyfriend Dean, declared himself "Team Jess," while Ventimiglia, who played Jess and stole Rory away from Dean, deadpanned that he was "Team Dean." Czuchry, who played snooty college boyfriend Logan, also declared himself "Team Jess," though Ventimiglia couldn't help but chide him, "Logan was a d--k." As for Patterson, he's still holding out for someone better for Stars Hollow's golden child. "None of you are good enough for Rory," he said, as the crowd cheered. (But seriously: The correct answer is Team Jess.)
According to Graham, the Lorelai line she hears quoted most often by fans is...
"Oy with the poodles, already!"
The network pushed for Rory to have sex
By season four, WB execs were getting antsy about Rory's still-intact virginity, and chided Sherman-Palladino about it. "'What's the deal, is she like a nun?'" the showrunner recalled the network asking. Sherman-Palladino said she always knew she wanted Rory's first time be with Dean, her idealized first boyfriend. "We weren't trying to make a statement. We were trying to play the truth of who she was," the showrunner said.
Lots of characters had happy endings
"I like to think Paris and Doyle are still together," Lisa Weil said of Rory's frenemy and former Yale Daily News editor. "I think they're really well matched. I hope they're supporting each other taking over the f—ing world." Danny Strong added that he thinks the pair would have wound up married. Liz Torres, who played Miss Patty, thinks the Stars Hollow dance teacher eventually became mayor of the town, while Padalecki said Dean probably took over Doose's Market from Taylor.
Despite some controversial storylines (Lorelai marrying Christopher, Rory stealing the yacht and leaving Yale, most of season seven), no one would change anything that happened on the show
"No, I'm too old to regret," Sherman-Palladino said during the panel. She added during her one-on-one interview, "I'm so incredibly amazed at what we got to do. The legacy is there. I'm still on speaking terms with the entire cast. When does that happen?"
Everyone wants to do a reunion movie -- but, sadly, there's nothing currently in the works
Patterson perhaps jumped the gun a bit when he suggested during a recent podcast appearance that a movie reunion was in the making, and appeared a bit sheepish about those remarks during the panel. But as he said Saturday, "It's kinda time, don't you think?" Unfortunately, there are no current plans for such a project, but that hasn't stopped Sherman-Palladino from stoking the flames ever-so-slightly. "There's nothing in the works at the moment," she said. "[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." We'll take it.
Photo credit: Jack Plunkett