Big happenings in the Gilmore Girls universe this week: Oct. 5 marked the 15th anniversary of the show’s debut on The WB network, and Gilmore fans have a new destination for watching (by which, of course, we mean re-watching) episodes: the UP network, which now airs GG on weekdays.
And because we’ll take any opportunity to gab about those girls that had the gift of it, we’re sharing 34 of our favorite Gilmore Girls facts, at least some of which, we’re betting, you might not have known.
1. Gilmore Girls was the original show title, though it was briefly changed to The Gilmore Way before finally being locked in as Gilmore Girls. The inspiration for the Gilmore name: the Gilmore Bank at the Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles, which merged with (and changed its name to) Grandpoint Bank in 2013.
2. Hollywood agent-turned-producer Gavin Polone worked with creator Amy Sherman-Palladino to develop Gilmore Girls, and he has said part of the inspiration for the show’s focus on the mother-daughter relationship between Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) was the 1999 movie Drop Dead Gorgeous, which he produced, and the relationship between characters played by Ellen Barkin and Kirsten Dunst.
3. Sherman-Palladino was a writer and producer on Roseanne. She earned an Emmy nomination for co-writing the classic Season 4 premiere “A Bitter Pill to Swallow,” in which Roseanne agrees to take daughter Becky to the doctor for birth control pills. Also writers on Roseanne: Sherman-Palladino’s future husband and Gilmore executive producer Dan Palladino, and Mike Gandolfi, who Sherman-Palladino hired to play Stars Hollow Books owner Andrew.
4. Roseanne was often a notoriously contentious place to work. At one point, star Roseanne Barr assigned the writing staff T-shirts with numbers on them, referring to them by the numbers so she didn’t have to remember their names. In Season 6’s “Just Like Gwen and Gavin” episode of Gilmore Girls, Yale Daily News editor Paris Geller (Liza Weil) gives her newsroom staffers hats with numbers on them for the same reason. Still, Sherman-Palladino credits her experience on Roseanne with teaching her to “make the small big, and the big small,” a hallmark of GG scripts.
5. Graham was hired to play Lorelai just a week before the pilot episode was scheduled to be shot in the Toronto suburb of Unionville, and just a month before Gilmore Girls was scheduled to be announced as part of The WB’s fall schedule at the 2000 Upfronts in New York.
6. Bledel had no TV experience when she was cast to play Rory. To help her get used to starring in a series and dealing with life in Hollywood, Gilmore producers asked Edward Herrmann, who played Rory’s grandfather, to act as her mentor. He would take her for regular dinners at Musso & Frank, the old school Hollywood eatery that’s been featured in movies like Ocean’s Eleven, Ed Wood, and The Day of the Locust.
7. Herrmann and Kelly Bishop (Lorelai’s mother, Emily) both won Tonys in 1976, her for A Chorus Line and him for Mrs. Warren’s Profession.
8. Sherman-Palladino’s dad, Don Sherman, was her inspiration to create the Gilmore character Kirk (played by Sean Gunn). Don was a TV actor and writer, who appeared on shows like Gimme a Break, Maude, and The Monkees and wrote episodes of Love Boat and Bridget Loves Bernie.
9. Gilmore Girls scripts tended to be 35 percent longer than scripts for the average one-hour TV series. For the first few seasons of the show, Bledel recorded herself reading pages of limericks as fast as she could, to train herself to be able to deliver that trademark Gilmore rapid-fire dialogue every week.
10. Alex Borstein was originally cast as Sookie (ultimately played by Melissa McCarthy), but had to drop out when Gilmore Girls was picked up as a series because of her commitment as a cast member of MADtv. She returned to Gilmore Girls for guest appearances as crabby harp player Drella and Emily Gilmore’s stylist, Miss Celine. Borstein, in real-life, was married to GG star Jackson “Jackson Belleville” Douglas, until he filed for divorce in 2014.
11. Gilmore producer Helen Pai — who is also the best friend of Amy Sherman-Palladino — was the inspiration for Lane Kim (Keiko Agena), Rory’s BFF. Pai also inspired the name of Lane’s band: Hep Alien is an anagram of Helen Pai.
12. There were three Deans. The actor originally cast was let go before the pilot was shot. Actor Nathan Wetherington portrayed Dean in the pilot, but producers didn’t think he was quite right for what they had in mind for the character. Jared Padalecki, who was a Texas college student at the time, took over the role when Gilmore Girls got the official thumbs up from The WB.
13. Scott Cohen, who played Lorelai’s fiancé (and Rory’s teacher) Max Medina, had co-starred with Graham in a pre-Gilmore three-episode arc of Law & Order in which he played a murderous movie director and she played a movie studio executive who wanted to have a fling with Benjamin Bratt’s Detective Rey Curtis.
14. Sally Struthers and Ted Rooney, who played Lorelai and Rory’s neighbors Babette and Morey, are both from Portland, Oregon and went to the same high school, more than a decade apart. In fact, Rooney’s dad was All in the Family Emmy winner Struthers’s math teacher at Grant High School. Much comedy was wrung from the height difference between Babette and Morey on Gilmore, and for the record, he is 6’6.5” while she is 5’1”.
15. The wonderful Weil, a.k.a. Paris Geller, originally auditioned for the role of Rory. She wasn’t right for the part, but Sherman-Palladino liked her so much that she created the role of Paris just for her. Actor Wayne Wilcox didn’t audition for the role of Rory’s could-have-been Yale love interest “Naked Guy” Marty. The part was written for him after Sherman-Palladino and her husband Dan saw him while he was working as a waiter at the Mercer Hotel in New York. She thought he looked like a young Tom Hanks.
16. Before Nick Holmes landed the four-episode guest gig as Robert Grimaldi, Logan’s frenemy and Life and Death Brigade cohort (and Rory’s date for Finn’s Pulp Fiction party), he’d auditioned to play Dean, Tristan, and Jess. Rose Abdoo originally auditioned for the role of Sookie, before landing the role of Stars Hollow mechanic Gypsy. Biff Yeager auditioned to play Taylor Doose before signing on as Stars Hollow’s best contractor, Tom.
17. Speaking of Jess (Milo Ventimiglia), Season 3’s “Here Comes the Son” was supposed to launch a spin-off series that would revolve around him called Windward Circle. Sherilyn Fenn, who played the girlfriend of Jess’s dad, Jimmy, in the episode, would return to Gilmore Girls in Season 6 as Anna, Luke’s ex-girlfriend and the mother of the daughter he didn’t know he had until she was almost a teen.
18. Still holding a grudge against April for being a major snag in the Luke/Lorelai relationship? Vanessa Marano, who played Luke’s daughter, was a Gilmore Girls fan, but not a fan of April either. “When I got the breakdown for the role, I was like, ‘You’re giving Luke a daughter! This is going to break them up. Oh, my God!’” Marano told The Gilmore Girls Companion author A.S. Berman. “I mean, I hated myself. How can my character do this?”
19. The planned Jess spin-off wasn’t the network’s first choice for a Gilmore Girls follow-up. The WB asked Sherman-Palladino to spin Luke (Scott Patterson) off into his own show, but she 1) didn’t think the character would leave Stars Hollow, and 2) she didn’t want to split up Luke and Lorelai (well, geographically speaking, anyway).
20. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Norman Mailer also guest-starred in Season 5’s “Norman Mailer, I’m Pregnant!” The title tells the story — Sookie realizes she’s pregnant while the author is being interviewed at the Dragonfly Inn’s restaurant. Mailer’s interviewer was played by his son, Stephen, a friend of one of the GG writers, which is how the surprising appearance came about. The self-proclaimed “cantankerous curmudgeon” Mailer thought the Luke and Lorelai storyline on the show was “cute,” and of the experience of filming his appearance he later said, “I was not miserable.” Interesting coincidence: one of Mailer’s two Pulitzers was awarded to him for the classic nonfiction book The Executioner’s Song, which told the story of executed murderer Gary Gilmore.
21. Do you remember these other Gilmore Girls guest stars: pre-The O.C. Adam Brody, pre-Mad Men Jon Hamm, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Seth MacFarlane, pre-Breaking Bad Krysten Ritter, Empire co-creator Danny Strong, pre-Community Danny Pudi, CNN journalist (and Rory’s career heroine) Christiane Amanpour, former porn star Traci Lords, pre-Parks and Recreation Nick Offerman, Mary Lynn Rajskub (who made appearances before and after she began playing Chloe O’Brian on 24), pre-Heroes Masi Oka, pre-Glee Jane Lynch, and music legend Carole King, who also performed the show’s theme song, “Where You Lead,” with her daughter, Louise Goffin?
22. If you think you can’t appreciate the show more than you already do, consider this: Gilmore Girls workdays often ran 21-hours long (really!), which meant crew members, who didn’t have their own personal trailers, would race to use their break times to grab a nap on set couches and beds, or even in their cars, which were parked on the streets of Stars Hollow.
23. In Season 3’s “Happy Birthday, Baby,” Rory commissions a giant pizza for mom Lorelai’s birthday celebration. The prop was made of foam and covered with real sauce and toppings, and in his book The Gilmore Girls Companion, author A.S. Berman reveals one of the GG crew members did a bellyflop onto the faux pizza once filming wrapped.
24. How serious was the Gilmore crew about making everything seem as authentic as possible on the show? For the Season 3 episode “I Solemnly Swear,” in which Paris and Rory have a very brief showdown during a Chilton fencing class, producers gave Weil time off so she could take fencing lessons.
25. Among the directors who helmed episodes of Gilmore Girls: Nicole Holofcener, actor David Paymer, Gilmore Girls star Jackson Douglas, Leonard Nimoy’s son Adam, and High School Musical trilogy director and choreographer Kenny Ortega. Ortega, who also directed the Michael Jackson’s This Is It concert film, directed Season 3’s “They Shoot Gilmores, Don’t They?” in which Rory and Dean break up during the big Stars Hollow dance marathon.
26. Bill Prady, co-creator of The Big Bang Theory and ABC’s new incarnation of The Muppets, was a writer and co-executive producer on Gilmore Girls.
27. The Warner Brothers studio lot that houses the Gilmore Girls set had also been used in The Dukes of Hazzard, The Partridge Family, Growing Pains, and The Waltons.
28. Music was a huge part of the show, but it wasn’t always easy — nor cheap — to procure the tunes Sherman-Palladino wanted. In Season 1’s “Star-Crossed Lovers and Other Strangers,” John Lennon’s “Oh My Love” is the soundtrack for what ends up being Rory and Dean’s breakup at the scrapyard, but only after Yoko Ono read pages from the script and producers coughed up a cool $20,000 check for the privilege.
29. Outrageous, yes, but true: the only Emmy awarded to Gilmore Girls in seven seasons was a 2004 statue for Outstanding Makeup for a Series, for the Season 4 episode “The Festival of Living Art.”
30. The only proper way to celebrate Gilmore Girls’ anniversary and general greatness: with a Rory, the 21st birthday party drink named for Lorelai Jr., and containing champagne, vodka, pineapple juice, and grenadine.
31. Gilmore Girls owes its existence, in part, to another WB series: 7th Heaven. The success of Heaven led advertisers like Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson to form the Family Friendly Programming Forum, which would fund the development of similar series. Both Graham and Sherman-Palladino have said “Family Friendly Programming” made them nervous. “I would be more comfortable if it were called the Dysfunctional Family Friendly Form,” Graham told Entertainment Weekly in 2000. But after giving GG $1 million in seed money, the FFPF was hands-off. “It’s not a right-wing thing,” Graham said. “It’s mainly supporting shows with a multigenerational element that you could watch as a family.”
32. After her split with the network, which saw Season 7 of Gilmore Girls in the hands of showrunner David Rosenthal, Sherman-Palladino says she’s never seen the last season of the show.
Related: Best and Worst Showrunner Switches
33. The Gilmore girls – Graham, Bledel, and Bishop – reunited, along with Sherman-Palladino and several other cast members, at the 2015 ATX Television Festival in Austin. You can watch the entire event online. Missing at the reunion: Herrmann, who died on December 31, 2014. He was 71.
34. It’s not only about the girls, though … no Gilmore devotee should go one more day without checking out the 100+ episodes of the Gilmore Guys podcast, a delightful show hosted by two big GG fans and including guests like series stars Bishop, Weil, Gunn, Wilcox, and Agena, writer Jane Espenson, and casting directors Mara Casey and Jami Rudofsky.
Gilmore Girls can be seen weekdays on the UP network, and is streaming on Netflix.