I was one of the lucky ones that got into the Gilmore Girls 15th Anniversary Reunion panel this past Saturday evening. And it was everything. Everything. Like many, when ATX TV Fest (Austin Texas Television Festival) announced they’d be getting the town back together for a reunion event, I was quick to buy a badge and makes plans to head to Austin June 4th-7th for all of the madness. And it was worth the money, the time, and the sanity, to sit and hear the Gilmore girls tell stories, talk romance, and ultimately, reminisce with all of us in why this show is so incredibly special.
Let’s start at the beginning (a very good place to start). Entertainment Weekly, TV Line and the like announced in November that ATX would be hosting a reunion gabfest with creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, and stars Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel. Sherman-Palladino said in a statement:
“So, after years of peace and quiet, these lunatics have chosen to get the chattiest chicks in the world back under one roof? Really? Okay. You asked for it. Gilmore was the highlight of my ridiculous life. I can’t wait to sit with these unbelievable broads and relive a time where sleep did not exist, where stress and coffee were mama’s little helpers, and where we all dove into the deep end together to make something weird and very very cool.”
Shortly after, the panel grew to include nearly ever major cast member and series regular character that was part of the series over its seven year run, including Kelly Bishop (Emily Gilmore), Scott Patterson (Luke Danes), Keiko Agena (Lane Kim), Yanic Truesdale (Michel Gerard), Liza Weil (Paris Gellar), Liz Torres (Miss Patty), Jared Padalecki (Dean Forrester), Matt Czuchry (Logan Huntzberger), Jackson Douglas (Jackson Belleville), Todd Lowe (Zack Van Gerbig), Milo Ventimiglia (Jess Mariano), Arielle Kebbel (Lindsay Lister/Forrester) and John Cabrera (Brian Fuller). Most unfortunately, Edward Herrmann passed away on December 31st, 2014.
Fans and cast alike descended upon Austin on and around June 4th for the ATX Festival’s fourth (and biggest) year. The Gilmore Girls reunion was to be the closing night event, on June 6th from 7-9 pm. Cast members such as Keiko Agena, John Cabrera and Todd Lowe arrived early, and shared their excursions via social media. Other cast members, such as Scott Patterson, tweeted updates and photos.
Many other Gilmore Girls cast members explored Austin, giving fans the opportunity to meet them around the InterContinental Stephen F. Austin hotel.
Of course, ATX also hosted tons of other fun, engaging, and exciting panels throughout the weekend for attendees to take part in. Fans enjoyed seeing plenty of their favorite TV, whether it be old, new or ongoing, including Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World, Robert Rodrizquez’s From Dusk Till Dawn, ABC Family’s “cancelled too soon” Bunheads, TV Land’s fresh sitcoms Younger and Teachers, and many more.
Fans were thrilled when ATX announced on Friday that Hep Alien would reunite and perform together at the Friday Night Lights Tailgate Screening. Reunite they did, as Keiko, Todd and John took the stage to perform for a delighted audience. After, they posed for pictures and socialized with the crowd. Friday also saw the arrival of many other cast members.
Then came Saturday. The big day. The Gilmore day. The cast teased their reunion throughout the day, and filmed for the Today Show, which airs later this week. Excitement was building for all of us. In what might be the first instance ever, all fifteen cast members would occupy the same space for our viewing pleasure, and bring a little Stars Hollow to everybody.
Fans started lining up at 5 pm for the reunion, and waited for hours in order to gain access into the event, find seats, and enjoy every moment of what was truly a special experience. As they waited, the stars showed up and walked the red carpet to do press, finally reunited once again. Inside, everyone cheered as the Gilmore Girls cast entered, and took their seats. What followed was truly an emotional, hilarious, and nostalgic two hours.
It began with the Gilmore Girls theme song, which played upon the big screen. Everyone sang to Carole King’s “Where You Lead” as the credits introduced all of their favorites. The theme was slightly altered to include cast members like Liz Torres, Todd Lowe and John Cabrera, who’d never been included before despite being with the show for a lot of its run. Of course, they retained the special appearance by Edward Herrmann, much to everyone’s heart hurt. Ouch.
Arielle Kebbel appeared to introduce ATX creators Caitlin McFarland and Emily Gipson, after noting that she loved her time on Gilmore Girls, despite fans dislike of the Lindsay character. She was a newbie and learned a lot. McFarland and Gipson shared that they’d been trying to get Gilmore Girls since the first season of ATX. Dreams do come true in Texas.
After, EW moderator Jessica Shaw took the stage with the Gilmore Girls themselves: Amy Sherman-Palladino, Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, and Kelly Bishop. What followed was a look into the casting of the three women, and what their first days were like. Amy Sherman-Palladino remembers pitching Gilmore Girls out of nothing. She originally pitched it as a show in which, basically, a mother and daughter were more like friends. That was it. She admits Gilmore Girls wouldn’t be picked up today; it was a different time. The WB gave her trust in terms of crafting the show (she picked the small town locale and many of the details while on vacation in a small town, staying at an inn). She says the only trouble with the WB at the beginning came down to page count. Normal shows have scripts around 60 pages long. Due to the rapid-paced dialogue of Gilmore Girls, scripts needed to be more like 85 pages. Sherman-Palladino recalls having to film filler scenes when episodes came up short for time, until the WB began to trust her with that, too. And boy were they right to do so.
Lauren Graham spoke of getting the part. She was originally on another series, but read the script and felt she couldn’t stand the thought of someone else getting the part. Sherman-Palladino originally wrote Graham off because she didn’t want to fall in love with an actress she couldn’t have. When Graham did audition? “Done.” Boom. She got the part. Casting seemed to mostly follow Sherman-Palladino’s gut, which was spot on. Perfection. Alexis Bledel told an amusing story about modeling while at NYU, and feeling nothing was working out. She came in to audition sick and tired, and somehow, it worked in her advantage. Kelly Bishop started by saying, “I don’t think I audition very well.” Sherman-Palladino was quick to add, “You’re wrong.”
The girls shared some difficulty with the long scripts, because Lorelai and Rory are in almost every single scene for the first season. Eventually they begged Sherman-Palladino to ease their plate. And it happened, though only after the audience had fallen for the two leading ladies (Let’s be honest… that didn’t take long). Sherman-Palladino adds that the coincidence of Graham and Bledel looking alike was basically magic. Other amusing tales included talk of “multiple Canadian Deans” during the pilot filming, some of the most popular zingers and lines from the series (“Oy with the poodles already” and “copper boom” seemed to be favorites, while everyone agreed Kelly Bishop could convey so much with just a look), and Graham essentially manhandling Bledel around set to get her on her mark in early episodes.
After followed a touching tribute to Edward Herrmann, put together by Amy herself. She commented on his loss, and what it meant to have him on seat.
“It’s really crappy that he’s gone. We miss him so much, and I wanted to put a little something together. I think I speak for all of us in saying we were so surprised. I don’t think any of us knew he was sick. Ed was the first one to say he was going to be at this panel, that’s how fucked up it is that he’s gone. I just miss him, and I’m so grateful I got to work with him and hear him say my words and see him yell at me at dailies because I was making him do too many takes. He was not a puppet. He was just a drinking, loving, knew-everything-in-the-world… He was our Mr. President.”
Following the tribute, the screen raised to reveal seats for everyone, and they took their seats to the applause of the audience.
Among the notable inquiries were where each character might be nowadays. Many of them gave somewhat expected answers. Alexis Bledel was sure Rory would be working hard, being a journalist, while Matt Czurchy was certain Logan would not be working. Scott Patterson rambled on about Luke having a cabin and fishing before Lauren Graham asked in amusement, “Does he have a girlfriend?” Graham affirmed that Luke and Lorelai would most definitely be together, which Patterson then said was a better answer than his. A fan later asked to clarify if Luke and Lorelai would be married. The answer is yes.
Kelly Bishop noted that Emily would be a widow now, and she isn’t sure what Emily would do without Richard. Among the other notable predictions, Lane would be figuring out what kind of mom she wants to be, Dean would own Doose’s Market, Miss Patty would run for mayor and win, and Paris and Doyle would be married, ruling the world, the power couple that they are.
On the Jess vs Dean vs Logan debate, Jared Padalecki was fast to say he’s Team Jess while Milo Ventimiglia decided he was Team Dean. Nobody, including Matt Czurchy, was Team Logan; everyone agreed he was a dick. It was decided that every boyfriend came at the right time, and served a purpose in Rory’s development. Scott Patterson added to audience cheers that none of them were actually good enough for Rory. An answer we can all be happy with. I certainly agree that each offered something to Rory. Dean was the perfect first boyfriend; he was devoted, kind, innocent himself, and everything Rory needed. Jess challenged Rory on another level, and offered her the shake up she seemed almost desperate for. Logan was smart, witty, and could take Rory places. He was wordly, though immature, and seemed to compliment and contrast Rory’s nature in an interesting way.
Discussion turned to whether there might be a Gilmore Girls movie or continuation series. Sherman-Palladino admitted to disappointed fans that nothing was in the works, but the good news was that all of the cast gets along. Essentially, someone just needs to throw money at them, and they’ll make something. Sherman-Palladino did promise it would be done right, if it ever happens. I’d imagine Netflix might take the opportunity to make something, since it currently has access to the rest of the seasons and is partially responsible for inducting a new wave of fans into the Stars Hollow circle. I think to be respectful to Edward Herrmann, and due to the real-life passing of time, that the film or eighth season might be set quite a few years later. What if Emily moved to Stars Hollow? That would be a perfect way to reintroduce the town and townsfolk to new fans, while presenting an interesting twist. Without a buffer, would Lorelai and Emily clash, or would they finally find themselves getting along? Make it happen, people.
“You get one,” Amy Sherman-Palladino said, of how often many people find that perfect, personal and professional success in their careers.
“There’s no way I’m going to top this experience, this cast, these leading ladies here. … And that’s OK. Some people get lucky and some people don’t. And, God, I got so lucky.”
As a fan, it was more than worth it to make the trek out to Austin to experience the delight that is the ATX Festival. I enjoyed every moment of it, and the Gilmore Girls reunion was just the cherry on top, really. More than anything, it was apparent that this show has touched so many people, of different eras, genders, and backgrounds. Gilmore Girls, at its heart, is about family and creating family. Sometimes we’re born into family, and sometimes we choose family. Gilmore Girls was both. It was living with and learning to coexist with your relatives you don’t always see eye-to-eye with, and filling the empty spaces with friends, neighbors, and lovers. Ultimately, we all decide who is in our life, and for how long. I believe we’re all comforted by the fact that Lorelai, Rory, and Stars Hollow are our family, and always will be.
For more pics of the red carpet, head over to Entertainment Weekly’s red carpet coverage!