For one Saturday night only, the Paramount Theatre in downtown Austin became the warm, fictional town of Stars Hollow as rabid fans of the departed WB series “Gilmore Girls” saw a rare reunion of the show’s cast and its creator.
The series, which ran from 2000-2007, was never a gigantic ratings hit or an Emmy award contender, but its stature in the TV industry has grown since it left the air as Netflix, DVDs sales and syndication have given it more waves of attention and new generations of viewers.
Saturday night’s reunion, which was the most high-profile event of the fourth-annual ATX Television Festival, drew a sold-out crowd to the venue and a flurry of activity on social media as fans of the show awaited word — any word — that “Gilmore Girls” might return as a new set of TV episodes (Netflix!?) or a movie. Crazier things have happened. “Full House” and “Twin Peaks” are both returning with new episodes in the near future.
Alas, show creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, who left the series before its controversial (and frankly not that great) final season, did not have any news to break at the reunion, which included stars Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Kelly Bishop, Scott Patterson and 12 others.
“There’s nothing in the works at the moment,” Sherman-Palladino said, although she left the door open by saying that everyone on stage gets along great and would probably be open to a return to the show’s Stars Hollow setting. (That said, it didn’t sound like there was any kind of script being written and if a deal is being worked on, it wasn’t mentioned.) “If it ever happened, I promise we’d do it correctly,” Sherman-Palladino added.
Apart from pining for new content, fans seemed most interested in hearing about the relationships between the characters on the show, what they might be doing today (Miss Patty would be mayor, Luke would be running a bait and tackle shop, Lane Kim would be trying to be more of a Lorelai mom than a Mrs. Kim mom) and what some of their favorite moments on the show were. The show’s stars and creators received a warm tongue bath of attention with fans cheering about lines from 10 years ago that even the actors didn’t remembers and greeting the cast as if they were long-lost family members just returned after an extended departure.
Three stars conspicuously missing from the event: Melissa McCarthy, who has become a huge comedy star and who was not mentioned; Sean Gunn, who is filming a movie overseas and couldn’t make it; and, most notably, Edward Herrmann, who played Rory’s grandfather Richard Gilmore on the show.
Herrmann died on Dec. 31, 2014 and his absence was marked with an empty chair on stage, a beautifully put-together video collection of some of his “Gilmore Girls” work and the revelation from Sherman-Palladino that he was the first of the stars to agree to do the reunion.
“(Expletive) him for dying,” she said, in the nicest, most heartfelt way possible.
The reunion was preceded by a sweaty red carpet in the Texas heat and an after party at Cedar Door where cast members took photos with fans, signed autographs and caught up on new projects.
The large cast of townies from “Gilmore Girls” have gone on to success on many other TV shows including “Parenthood,” “Mad Men,” “Supernatural,” “Empire” and “Justified.”
Sherman-Palladino went on to create “Bunheads,” a beloved, but short-lived show on ABC Family that was also honored with a screening at the festival.
If there were hard feelings about the way the show ended, Sherman-Palladino deflected them with her trademark wit. She said when the show ended, she spent the night yelling at her husband Dan (who co-created and worked on the show) and when asked about statements she’s made about how she would have ended the show, she declined to reveal the four words she’s said would have been said.
Instead, she warmly remembered how great an experience the show had been and how much she enjoyed its cast.
“God, I got so lucky,” she said.