AR­RIVAL OF THE RE­VIVAL

The jour­ney to the long-awaited Gil­more Girls re­boot was not with­out craze and con­spir­a­cies,

Toronto Star - - ENTERTAINMENT & LIFE - EMILY YAHR

Ev­ery TV nos­tal­gia pro­ject in Hol­ly­wood is dif­fer­ent, but they tend to fol­low the same jour­ney.

There’s the slow-build­ing ru­mour mill about the pro­ject, such as the many re­unions among Full House cast mem­bers on so­cial me­dia that in­deed re­sulted in the an­nounce­ment of Fuller House.

There’s the in­tense buzz that puts pres­sure on ac­tors to re­turn, even if some (like Zachary Quinto in Heroes Re­born) de­cline to ap­pear. And there are sky-high ex­pec­ta­tions, which can quickly fiz­zle, à la the dis­ap­point­ing fourth sea­son of Ar­rested Devel­op­ment.

This month, all eyes are on Net­flix with an­other much-hyped nos­tal­gia of­fer­ing: the re­vival of Gil­more Girls, the beloved WB drama that ran from 2000 to 2007, and fol­lowed a mother-daugh­ter best friend duo (Lau­ren Gra­ham as Lore­lai and Alexis Bledel as Rory) in a small Con­necti­cut town.

Ti­tled Gil­more Girls: A Year in the Life (pre­mier­ing Nov. 25), the re­boot con­sists of four 90-minute episodes that take the char­ac­ters through win­ter, spring, sum­mer and fall.

The an­tic­i­pa­tion is at a fever pitch, par­tic­u­larly be­cause cre­ator Amy Sher­man-Pal­ladino and her hus­band, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Dan Pal­ladino, left the show be­fore the fi­nal sea­son. Fans will fi­nally get to see the cou­ple’s vi­sion for the end of the series. Now, the clo­sure has fi­nally ar­rived. Here’s how the re­boot went from an idea to a re­al­ity, in 10 steps:

Step 1: Ini­tial rum­blings How do Hol­ly­wood ex­ec­u­tives know whether there’s enough in­ter­est to spend time and money on a TV re­boot? They have to feel the ex­cite­ment in the air.

In Septem­ber 2014, Net­flix an­nounced that it was bring­ing all sev- en sea­sons to the stream­ing ser­vice. The In­ter­net ex­ploded over the news, as fans re­joiced that they wouldn’t have to spring for ex­pen­sive DVD sets or hope to catch re­runs.

The cre­ators started to think about new episodes when they saw the in­tense re­ac­tion the show re­ceived when first-time view­ers sud­denly started binge-watch­ing. Net­flix no­ticed as well.

“Our global li­cens­ing of Gil­more Girls around the world — the first seven sea­sons — en­abled us to re­ally get an in­sight into the idea that this was a real global and cur­rent cul­tural phe­nom­e­non,” Net­flix chief con­tent of­fi­cer Ted Saran­dos told the Wash­ing­ton Post.

Step 2: More rum­blings It’s one thing to hear that peo­ple are psyched for a show. It’s an­other to see it. In June 2015, the Gil­more Girls cast re­united for the first time at the ATX Tele­vi­sion Fes­ti­val in Austin. The nearly two-hour panel thrilled peo­ple in the au­di­ence as well as fans breath­lessly await­ing news on the out­side.

Sher­man-Pal­ladino had been field­ing ques­tions about a re­boot for years and, dur­ing that dis­cus­sion, she stoked the flames.

“It would have to be hon­oured in a cer­tain way,” she cau­tioned, adding that ev­ery­one would jump at the chance if it felt right.

Scott Pat­ter­son, who plays Luke, said that’s when the pos­si­bil­ity of a re­vival be­came a re­al­ity.

“I think ATX re­ally kind of drove it home to all par­ties in­volved that it could work,” he said at this past sum­mer’s Tele­vi­sion Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion press tour.

Step 3: Of­fi­cial ru­mours This is dif­fer­ent from the pro­ject’s ac­tual an­nounce­ment. Of­fi­cial ru­mours are when a very cred­i­ble source es­sen­tially re­ports that the show is “in the works,” which doesn’t give away too much but also causes fans to go crazy. It’s a cru­cial way to build buzz.

For Gil­more Girls, TVLine.com editor and long­time GG­fan Michael Ausiello had the hon­our of break­ing the news be­fore Net­flix of­fi­cially con­firmed any­thing.

Step 4: Fans lose their minds Twenty min­utes af­ter Ausiello’s tweet hit the In­ter­net, at 5:30 p.m. East­ern on Oct.19, 2015, ar­ti­cles from other pub­li­ca­tions started pour­ing in and #Gil­moreGirls was a world­wide trend­ing topic on Twit­ter.

Step 5: The con­spir­a­cies With­out any of­fi­cial word, fans get des­per­ate for in­for­ma­tion and mis­in­ter­pret things. Or do they?

In early Jan­uary 2016, pic­tures of the set be­ing built on the Warner Bros. lot in Los An­ge­les sur­faced on a Face­book fan page called Gil­more Girls For­ever. One photo had a set piece with sign that said “Lizzy & Luke’s house,” and view­ers freaked out: Did that mean Lore­lai and prob­a­ble soul mate Luke, ap­par­ently des­tined for hap­pi­ness in the series fi­nale, weren’t to­gether any­more? Af­ter all, Luke’s sis­ter’s name was Liz. Was he liv­ing with her?

Even­tu­ally, a com­menter on the Face­book page floated the idea that maybe the set piece was meant for a dif­fer­ent show filmed on the Warner Bros. lot that fea­tured char­ac­ters named Luke and Lizzy. Still, blogs cov­ered the po­ten­tially heart­break­ing news with head­lines such as, “If these Gil­more Girls re­boot set pho­tos are real, aban­don all hope.”

Step 6: Of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion Fi­nally, Net­flix con­firmed the news at the Tele­vi­sion Crit­ics As­so­ci­a­tion press tour on Jan. 29: Gil­more Girls would re­turn for four in­stal­ments.

Gra­ham tweeted out a photo, which was retweeted 44,000 times.

Step 7: The cast­ing Who will be a part of the re­boot? For the next sev­eral weeks, through­out win­ter (film­ing of­fi­cially started Feb. 2 and con­tin­ued through May 10), there was a steady drip of news each day as var­i­ous cast mem­bers con­firmed their sta­tus via Twit­ter or In­sta­gram. Some­times, this leads to . . .

Step 8: The con­tro­ver­sies For a while, it seemed like Melissa McCarthy would not be join­ing the re­vival.

In Fe­bru­ary, Sher­man-Pal­ladino said that McCarthy ( Brides­maids, The Heat) was too busy to par­tic­i­pate. Fans took this very per­son­ally, as McCarthy (who played Lore­lai’s best friend, chef Sookie St. James) was an in­te­gral part of the series. Is it be­cause she’s too busy be­ing a movie star now?

On April 7, McCarthy fi­nally con­firmed her sched­ule al­lowed her to film. At the TCA sum­mer press tour, Sher­man-Pal­ladino said ev­ery­one al­ways knew it would it hap­pen.

“It took on this weird life of its own,” she said of the faux con­tro­versy.

“Ev­ery­body wants ev­ery­body to hate each other now.”

Step 9: The buildup In April, En­ter­tain­ment Weekly pub­lished the first batch of pho­tos from the Net­flix re­vival, which showed Rory and Lore­lai walk­ing through town, as well as Rory stand­ing at the front of a class­room. (Did she quit jour­nal­ism?)

In July, the first teaser footage fea­tured the mother-daugh­ter duo riff­ing about Amy Schumer and John Oliver. Then Net­flix set a re­lease date.

Later, the Gil­more Girls In­sta­gram ac­count sent out a mys­te­ri­ous photo of an ap­ple, which caused many to think Rory could be preg­nant.

Each small piece of news set off a wave across the In­ter­net. That’s not even count­ing when cof­fee shops across the coun­try turned into “Luke’s Diner” to cel­e­brate the show’s 16th an­niver­sary in early Oc­to­ber. Or the of­fi­cial Gil­more Girls Fan Fest later that month, a three­day event fea­tur­ing episode screen­ings and cast mem­ber Q&As. It took place in Wash­ing­ton De­pot, Conn., the small town that in­spired much of Sher­man-Pal­ladino’s idea for the show.

Step 10: The re­lease On Nov. 25, we’ll fi­nally see if all of the above — and so much more — was ac­tu­ally worth it.

ROBERT VOETS/NET­FLIX

Emily (Kelly Bishop), left, Lore­lai (Lau­ren Gra­ham) and Rory Gil­more (Alexis Bledel) are back for the series re­vival.

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