Gilmore Girls: Seasons formally begins shooting in Los Angeles on Tuesday, and franchise creator Amy Sherman-Palladino is a teensy bit frazzled.
“These past couple of days have been crazy,” admits the auteur, who is writing and directing the four-part revival with husband Daniel Palladino. “We had our first table read on Friday. We have another table read today. And then we start directing [tomorrow].”
Luckily, AS-P carved out 30 minutes in her bonkers schedule to answer all of my burning questions about the 360-minute continuation. And because I had a lot of burning questions, I’m parceling the Q&A out in installments, with this first one focusing on the project’s twisty-turny journey from a hotel in Sag Harbor to a Netflix green light.
TVLINE | Amid all the insanity, have you been able to take a step back and let it all sink in?
TVLINE | Really? You haven’t had a moment of, “Wow, this is really happening?”
The weird thing for Dan and I is, we’ve been working on this since May. We pitched it right around the time of the ATX Television Festival in June. They didn’t buy it then, but we pitched it then. And because it’s four 90-minute movies basically, a lot of work went into just getting the pitch together. Then the first negotiations happened, which had nothing to do with the actors. And then the actors’ negotiations happened… it’s just been such a long process. Longer than any process I’ve ever been involved in. It’s like a pilot process, where the pilot should’ve already been picked up and shot, except we’re just starting it now.
There are moments. Like when I got to walk the Warner Bros. lot with Lauren [Graham]. Because Lauren came over one day and was working with her hair and makeup people and we were just all walking on the lot, and it was just weird. And then we were walking on the stage. And it’s Lorelai’s house. Or it’s the Dragonfly Inn. Moments like that are just nuts. And then I remember, “Oh, that’s the weird trailer stand across from [Warner Bros. Television president] Peter’s Roth’s office that has the turkey burger.” [Laughs] It’s very surreal. It’s been very fun to write for these characters again. We’ve missed doing it. It’s just that the deal-making process has taken so goddamned long. Every day we’d walk in and were like, “OK, it’s not going to happen today. Well, we need to keep writing!” It’s been six months of, “We’ll just keep writing because, who knows?” [Laughs]
TVLINE | So, you pitched it in May. When did you and Dan decide that you wanted to actually pursue this?
Lauren and I have talked a couple of times over the years about, “Should we? Should we not?” We always knew it needed to be the right venue. And Warner Bros. wasn’t always into it. Or one of the girls wasn’t into it. Or the timing was bad. It was just a passing thing. Then at some point we were like, “OK, it’s probably not going to happen.” And then [Gilmore Girls‘ back catalog was acquired by] Netflix and suddenly we would walk around New York and NYU students would come up to us and be like, “Oh, I watch the show. It was my mom’s favorite show and now I’m watching it with her!” We realized that there was a new audience for the show. And we thought, “Well, now that Netflix exists, maybe now is the time to talk about how we would do it.” And then Dan and I mulled it over.
We didn’t really want to do a reboot of the series. We thought if we were going to do something, we wanted to do something a little special. I love Sherlock. And I love their format, because their [episodes are more] than just an episode. They’re upwards of 90 minutes long sometimes. So we thought, “Why don’t we do something like that?” Originally we were going to pitch three [episodes]. And then we thought… four seasons, because seasons were so big with the show. It was snow and fall and spring and festivals… it defined [Stars Hollow] a lot. And we thought that’d be a lovely way to catch up with all three of our Gilmore Girls over the course of a year. And with that, we ensconced ourselves in a hotel in Sag Harbor and laid out cards on the ground for the four seasons and got a general idea of what we thought the stories would be. Then we went in and we pitched it.
It was interesting, because we went back and Peter Roth was in the pitches and we were all sort of looking at each other like, “Oh, it’s you again! Alright, we’ve been here before!” Peter always really loved the show. It was a nice reunion. So we pitched it. And then there was [what felt like] 12 years of wrangling and finagling that aged me. I’m 100 now. I’m hoping to get some of my youthful vigor back just to drag my ass through the directing of these episodes.
TVLINE | So, the episodes — titled “Winter,” “Spring,” “Summer” and “Fall” — are an obvious nod to Carole King. But did that order also work out for you story-wise?
Yes, it’s how the song goes, so everyone will be familiar with it. But, narratively, it really worked. It worked to open on snow and have a colder, starker environment. And then end on a lusher, warmer, golden-y town, which lends to where the story will end. Weirdly, the hard part was not breaking these stories. [The hard part was that] we had a lot of stuff we had to pull out. At first we were like, “How are we going to fill 90 minutes?!” And then we were like, “How are we going to get it down to 90 minutes?!” It became like this ridiculous, “Oh, s–t, now we’re at three hours!”