`Gilmore’ girl

Feb 19, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Having worked for two of TV’s most fabled modern-day prime-time stars, Roseanne and Kirstie Alley, writer-producer Amy Sherman-Palladino has gained a wealth of material on neuroses, phobias and angst to help draw rich character portrayals for her new series, The WB network’s “Gilmore Girls.”
Regarded by newspaper critics as one of TV’s freshest voices in years, Ms. Sherman-Palladino, creator and executive producer of “Gilmore Girls,” has used her earlier career experiences on “Roseanne” and “Veronica’s Closet” as reference points in constructing the titanic verbal sparring that ensues between single-mom Lorelai Gilmore (played by Lauren Graham) and her socialite mother Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop).
“The scenes between Lauren and Kelly are just gold. I could listen to them for six hours and never get tired of it-in some sort of sick, bizarre, twisted way, I love seeing those painful words come to life,” said Ms. Sherman-Palladino, whose freshman “Girlmore Girls” was voted the fourth-best TV series in Electronic Media’s 2000 Winter TV Critics Poll (EM, Dec. 11, 2000).
Several TV critics who have spoken to Ms. Sherman-Palladino say that much of her voice, speech patterns and wry sense of humor comes through in both Lorelai and her TV daughter, Rory (played by Alexis Bledel). It also seems reminiscent of the mother-daughter relationship on “Roseanne” (ABC, 1989-94), where Ms. Sherman-Palladino had her first “tour of duty” and trial-by-fire baptism in the world of TV sitcom writing.
“Actually, I was there during `the easy years,’ when Tom [Arnold] and Roseanne went through only one or two show runners-a happy and smooth time for the show in relative terms,” Ms. Sherman-Palladino recalled.
Interestingly, it was also soon after Ms. Sherman-Palladino left “Roseanne,” that she met her future husband, veteran writer-producer Daniel Palladino, who, joined the “Roseanne” staff as a writer and co-executive producer in 1995.
“Right after I left the show it got to be a real lunatic asylum,” she said. “I got out before the real psychosis kicked in, but my husband could have been a candidate for a [nervous] breakdown,” she noted with a laugh.
Joking aside, Ms. Sherman-Palladino credited “Roseanne” in helping to “foster an atmosphere for writing well-crafted, realistic stories” about family issues and dealing with Roseanne’s sometimes strained relationship with her daughters, which may have later served as inspiration for her creation of “Gilmore Girls.”
About two years after leaving “Roseanne,” Ms. Sherman-Palladino formed her own production company, Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions, and her first creation was the short-lived (September through October 1996) Fox sitcom “Love and Marriage.” The show centered on the relationship between highschool sweethearts and working parents April and Jack Nardini, who were raising three kids in New York.
“As my first shot in being a show runner, it lasted all of a heartbeat,” she recalled. “I had a shot at running a show that was in trouble from the start, but it was also good getting a feel for the job. However, I didn’t think I’d ever do it again, though.”
Undaunted, Ms. Sherman-Palladino looked for a new challenge when she joined NBC’s flagging “Veronica’s Closet” as executive producer in fall 1998. “It was one of the worst experiences of my career and had me considering taking a waitress job at Denny’s,” she said of the former Kirstie Alley-led sitcom. “It really had nothing to do with Kirstie or the cast, because they were all very nice, but it had everything to do with the show concepts being wild and crazy and not at all grounded in reality.”
Ms. Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel, a story consultant to “Gilmore Girls,” set out to create a show with a decidedly small-town feel. She says she was “cursed by God” to be born and raised in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley suburbs, so she traveled with her husband to the small, picturesque town of Washington Depot, Conn., to do early research for the show.
“It was this cute little town, where they had pumpkin festivals and pie-making contests-things you wouldn’t find in a place like the Valley,” she said. I just thought it would be an interesting contrast to have a show based in a quirky, small town-not in New York-but to have it where these Gilmore girls bring a sort of oddly tilted urban sensibility to the show as well.”
It is that crisp, fast-paced Marx Brotheresque dialogue coming through the characters of “Gilmore Girls” that has attracted increasingly scarce “multigenerational” family viewers-despite the show being in the most competitive time period on television, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. (ET) Thursdays.
Going up against NBC’s “Friends” and now CBS’s “Survivor: The Australian Outback,” “Gilmore Girls” has nonetheless posted double-digit young-female and male-adult demo increases for The WB. However, thanks to vociferous critics and loyal fan support, there is hope The WB will reschedule “Gilmore Girls” into the 9 p.m. Monday slot, out of the more compatible “7th Heaven” family drama, or on Wednesdays, either leading in or out of current staple “Dawson’s Creek.”
“With critical success, there is always the hope the network is thinking, `Hey, we’re doing something good here,”’ said Ms. Sherman-Palladino, whose script for the pilot of “Gilmore Girls” received first-time development funding from the Advertiser Friendly Program Forum, a consortium of 40 advertisers.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have a studio [Warner Bros. Television] and network that have always been supportive and never try to call the shots, but I’m still going to crawl into their offices and grovel for a better time period. I’m going to be like The Artist Formerly Known as Prince and paint the words `Slave’ and `Move us’ on my head until I get my way.”
Amy Sherman-Palladino
Age: 35.
Title: Creator/executive producer/writer, “Gilmore Girls.”
Credits: “Gilmore Girls” (The WB, 2000-present); “Veronica’s Closet” (NBC, 1998-99); “Over The Top” (ABC, 1997-98); “Love and Marriage” (Fox, 1996); “Daisy and Chess” (pilot, 1995); “Can’t Hurry Love” (CBS, 1995-96); “Roseanne” (ABC, 1990-94).