Exclusive Interview: David S. Rosenthal, Head Writer and Executive Producer of Gilmore Girls

Gilmore GirlsIn another installment of our series of interviews with the best and brightest TV writers and producers, we at BuddyTV recently caught up with the new Chief Writer of Gilmore Girls, David S. Rosenthal (“Spin City”, “Hope & Faith”). We had the pleasure of chatting with Mr. Rosenthal about the revival of an established show, the new direction the stories of the show are taking, and the future of Gilmore Girls. Gilmore Girls can be seen every Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET / PT on The CW.This is your first season as a new Show Runner on Gilmore Girls, succeeding designer Amy Sherman-Palladino. How did the transition go?

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Good. I mean, it’s been exciting. Amy put on a wonderful show and she set the bar very high in terms of quality. So, you know, it’s a lot to do and the fans are obviously very engaged and loyal, so I definitely felt a big responsibility to keep that enthusiasm going and, you know, it’s been a really exciting season for me. I really enjoyed the challenge.Amy Palladino wrote most of the episodes, didn’t she?Yes, she and her husband Dan wrote 80% of the episodes, of course.Was it difficult to learn to reproduce Amy’s unique “voice” in your writing and how did you manage to replace her production?Fortunately, I spent the last year on the show as an executive producer and spent a lot of time working with Amy and Dan and getting a feel for the show and how it was directed and written, so I really felt like I had a good year under my belt to kind of familiarize myself with the field, and then I brought in a team of writers. There are eight of us working on the show, which is a bigger staff than in previous years, so there’s definitely more workload sharing in terms of writing and stuff. So it was good. Ultimately, you absolutely have to develop your own style and your own way of handling things and your own way of running a show. You know, I certainly tried to stay true to a lot of things that have happened here over the past six years and the way the show has been put together, and I certainly felt that continuity was an important part. of my work as feeling like it’s still the show they know and love and it still is Gilmore Girls. Obviously I’m a different writer from Amy, so I’m going to bring different things to the table, but at the end of the day I think the characters she’s created and the world she’s created are so strong that ‘they can contain our two points of view.Is it easier with the transition to have actors who already know the unique language of the show well or does it not matter to the writer?No, it’s really useful actually. They are really talented and gifted actors and they know their characters so well and they’ve been doing this for so long that it’s really a huge advantage for us as writers. Also, creatively, that’s a good thing because if there is something that doesn’t suit them or that doesn’t quite match what they think of the character, it’s easy to communicate with. them. That’s actually great because obviously they’ve been living these characters for seven years so they have a certain level of experience to lean on, which can be very helpful to us.A typical Gilmore Girls the script is about 15 pages longer than the usual hour-long drama, isn’t it?Yeah, exactly that. We shoot like 77-78 page scripts, which is, yes, a lot longer than normal drama. Has this ever caused problems in the editing room or have you already timed it perfectly?We have plenty of time. Typically in a show a page of script is equal to one minute, but in our show a page is significantly less than a minute. So, yeah, we’re just able to pack more into an episode than most shows, at least in terms of the dialogue and in terms of the number of scenes. And, you know, it’s asking a lot of the team because they have to turn nine or ten pages a day, but they’ve been doing it for a long time and they’ve gotten used to it. It’s just a style and tone that Amy established that worked really well for the show, so it’s definitely something I wanted to continue.Before the show, did you and your new staff make a game plan for the rest or the season, in terms of storylines, or are you playing it by ear?No no. We sat down and we made an arc for the season: a beginning, a middle and an end for all the characters and relationships. You really want to plan ahead and really know where you are going so that you can build things up and set things in motion early on that can pay off later. Obviously as the season goes on things develop and storylines emerge where you react strongly to certain things. They can certainly change and change, but we definitely spent the start of the season really charting everything and really trying to get the whole arc of the season under control. Where we wanted to start, where we wanted to go, where we wanted to end. It’s a very important part of what we do.Part 1 / Part 2This interview is the third in a series of BuddyTV interviews with the creators, writers and producers of many successful TV shows. Next week, come back to BuddyTV for an exclusive interview with Jon Rabin Baitz, creator and executive producer of ABC’s Brothers & Sisters. So far, we’ve featured an interview with The Nine creator Hank Steinberg and an interview with The Class creators David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik.

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