The Q&A

Town Meeting

''Gilmore Girls'' creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her writer-director husband, Daniel, tell Ken Tucker about the behind-the-scenes drama that prompted their decision to leave the show

SHERMAN-PALLADINO
Image credit: Amy Sherman-Palladino: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
SHERMAN-PALLADINO

As I told you here last week, Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino and her writer-director husband, Daniel Palladino, are leaving the Girls. Their network, The WB — set to join UPN in forming the new CW network — sent out a statement that read, in part: ''While we are disappointed that Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino have decided not to stay with the show next season...we want to thank Amy for creating and nurturing this wonderful series for the past six years and giving us one of the most memorable mother/daughter relationships in television history.''

But I wanted to know what was really going on. So Amy and Dan spilled these beans:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What's the past week been like?
AMY I drove for the last time through the Stars Hollow set and they're already using it for the next few months for an Eddie Murphy movie. They've changed the entire town, so that felt symbolically weird... I assume Luke's Diner and everything else will be back by the time they start shooting the new season of Gilmore in July.
DAN We talked to the cast, and that was very emotional. I had to catch Lauren Graham [who plays Lorelai Gilmore] before she left for Virginia to work on the Bruce Almighty sequel, and we had to call Ed Herrmann and Kelly Bishop [who play Loreleai's parents] because they were in New York, and it was sad, because this season in particular we all bonded in a way we hadn't in previous years.
AMY It was like the early Actor's Studio without all the communism.

And what did you want that The WB wasn't giving you?
AMY A puppy.
DAN Well, that and — look, we've been working for the last two years with one-year contracts, working seven days a week for the past six years, and we wanted not a two-year pick-up for the show, but a two-year contract for us, so we could relax a little bit and not just think 300 days at a time, always wondering whether we'd be here. And we hit a brick wall with that, and also with our request for more personnel, more writers, a staff director for the [stage set] so that we didn't personally have to go down on the set and oversee the directors and make sure the knickknacks were on the right shelf at Lorelai's inn. So last Thursday, when we saw none of that was coming together, we made our decision [to leave].
AMY We went to the studio around the Christmas holiday and said, ''Here's what we're looking for and let's talk now before the season ends and things get crazy with [your] attention distracted by fall pilot development,'' but we got frozen out. It was like Footloose, when they're revvin' up the tractors, playin' chicken. It took too long and before everyone knew it, we were loading our desks on a truck and driving off the lot.

How did you envision ending the series if you'd stayed on for another season?
AMY As far as the series ending next season, that's not a real thing — they've got a new network, they're gonna need product, and this show has done very well. Why shouldn't it go on, with its built-in audience? I've had executives saying ''This will be the last season'' since season 4... We have a very specific idea of how we wanted the series to ultimately end, and there's a myriad of ways to get there, which could have accommodated another few seasons.

What was that ending?
AMY I can't tell you that! It wouldn't be fair to the people who'll be running the show now. It doesn't mean we had the right way, it was just my way, and that's what I always prefer: my way. [Laughs] So it's gonna be someone else's way.
DAN It'll end with all these canisters exploding and Jack Bauer running in with a gun.
AMY Oh, I love that Jack Bauer — I think he'd make a great guy for Lorelai, and think of him sitting at the stuffy Gilmore parents' dinner table!
DAN I'll tell you something — we always wrote the show so that when a season ended, and they told us it would be the last one, we made sure there were enough things still happening, still dangling, that they'd have to pick us up for the next season.
AMY It's our problem with authority. If they told us it wasn't gonna be the last year, then we'd have made sure it was the last.
DAN We'd have done our version of Springtime for Hitler.

What about the fact that Graham and Alexis Bledel (Rory) were contracted for only one more year — how did that factor into your long-term thinking?
AMY I think they could have gotten the girls for another season if they made the right deal. Because Lauren and Alexis can go off and do the movies they want to make around our production schedule — we made it work for them, so they could do that. We're such a tight-knit team, oddly more so than any year previous; we're very attuned to each other.

So what's in your future?
AMY Extreme alcoholism. [Laughs] We both have books we've optioned for movie projects. We're talking to MTV about doing a show with [producer] RJ Cutler — not a reality show, something else, a great idea. We're meeting with MTV this week to see about that, in fact.

And what's the legacy of Gilmore Girls for you?
AMY We created an alternate universe that we loved living in, loved having viewers get immersed in. I did everything I wanted to do, really — it was a gift from God. And look, f---ed-up family drama: that's a goldmine; problems never get resolved. There's a richness to conflict and love and stress that makes for great experiences.

Originally posted Apr 24, 2006