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"Bunheads" creator Amy Sherman-Pallidino welcomes former "Gilmore Girls" cast members to Paradise

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"Bunheads" creator Amy Sherman-Pallidino welcomes former "Gilmore Girls" cast members to Paradise

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This is kind of hard for a grown man to admit. But I really miss Stars Hollow.

You know the place I'm talking about, right? The fictitious Connecticut town which "Gilmore Girls" was set in?

Copyright Warner Bros. All rights reserved

Oh, sure. We all mostly tuned in for the seven years that this comedy-drama ran on The WB & The CW to find out what would happen next to Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) and her daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel). As well as seeing if we could actually keep up with this show's rapid-fire dialogue which was filled to the brim with pop culture references.

But honestly half the fun of watching "Gilmore Girls" was getting the chance to spend an hour in the quirky world that series creator Amy Sherman-Pallidino had set her show in. A place where Star Hollows' easily derailed town meetings wouldn't actually be held inside of Town Hall. But -- rather -- over at Miss Patty (Liz Torres)'s dance studio.

I miss those intense-but-funny wars of words that Luke Danes (Scott Patterson) -- the owner/operator of the town's diner-which-used-to-be-a-hardware-store -- would have with Taylor Doose (Michael Winters), the Town Selectman who ran Stars Hollow's market (which was right across the alley from Luke's). Not to mention the seemingly endless series of seasonal events that were staged in & around the town's gazebo (EX: The Founders Firelight Festival, The Annual Bid-A-Basket Fundraiser, The Festival of Living Art, to mention just a few). Where Stars Hollows' jack-of-all-trades / master-of-none Kirk (Sean Gunn) would invariably get something very, very wrong. Like -- for example -- forgetting where exactly he had hidden all of the eggs for the town's annual Easter Egg Hunt.

Copyright Warner Bros. All rights reserved

Which was why -- when "Gilmore Girls" officially came to a close in May of 2007 (Appropriately enough, with a party when the entire town gathered together around that gazebo. So that they could wish Rory well as she headed off to her first post-college job. Which was being a member of the press corps covering then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama's bid for the White House) -- there were a number of us out there who weren't quite ready to say good-bye forever to Stars Hollow. Which is why we kind of held out hope that all this loose talk about Warner Bros. possibly producing a "Gilmore Girls" movie (as recently as September 2010, Lauren Graham was talking with a reporter from Vanity Fair about how " ... people with power [at that studio], people who could actually make it happen, are talking about [possibly moving forward with a feature-length follow-up to this much-beloved TV series])" might turn out to be true. So that we'd once again get to enjoy the banter of a Friday night dinner with Emily (Kelly Bishop) & Richard Gilmore (Edward Herrmann) and/or drop in on Sookie (Melissa McCarthy) and Michel (Yankic Truesdale) at  the Dragonfly Inn.

But now that Ms. Graham is busy co-starring in NBC's "Parenthood" (Not to mention Alexis Bledel's rather adult turn on this season of AMC's "Mad Men"), it's looking far less likely that Warner Bros. is ever going to greenlight a "Gilmore Girls" movie. Which means no return trip to Stars Hollows.

So faced with that fate, what's a person who really enjoys Sherman-Pallidino's smart scripts &  twisted take on small town life supposed to do? Start tuning into Amy's new hour-long television series for ABC Family, "Bunheads."

(L to R) Emma Dumont, Kaitlyn Jenkins, Kelly Bishop, Sutton Foster, Bailey Buntain and
Julia Goldani Telles from "Bunheads." Photo by Andrew Eccles.
Copyright ABC Family. All rights reserved

In a lot of ways, "Bunheads" is the funhouse mirror version of "Gilmore Girls." In that, instead of being a comedy-drama set in a small town on the East Coast, this new ABC Family series chronicles the goings-on in Paradise, a quirky little burg which hugs the Southern California coast.

And instead of being a show about this single mom and her closer-than-close relationship with her precocious teenager daughter, "Bunheads" is ... Well, it's basically Lorelai and the four Rories.

To explain: Television newcomer Sutton Foster (best known for her Tony Award-winning turns in the Broadway musicals "Thoroughly Modern Millie" & "Anything Goes") play Michelle Simms, a former ballerina AKA "bunhead' who somehow wound up in Las Vegas as a showgirl. Seeing her life and dance career effectively at a dead end, Michelle impulsively marries  Hubbell Flowers (played by Alan Ruck of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" fame).

(L to R) Alan Ruck, Sutton Foster and Kelly Bishop in the pilot episode of "Bunheads."
Photo by Randy Holmes. Copyright ABC Family. All rights reserved

After their quickie Las Vegas wedding, Hubbell now drives Michelle back to Paradise. Where this now-former showgirl is shocked to learn that she and her new husband will be living under the same roof as Hubbell's mother, Fanny Flowers (Kelly Bishop). Who -- as it turns out -- teaches ballet at the Paradise Dance Academy.

The shocks keep on  coming for poor Michelle as (MAJOR SPOILER AHEAD) less than 24 hours after she arrives in Paradise, Hubbell is killed in a car accident. And given that her new husband had already called his attorney and put his entire estate in Michelle's name ... Well, she and Fanny are now kind of stuck with one another.

So as this former Vegas showgirl struggles to get a handle on small town life (not to mention trying to find some common ground with her artsy-fartsy mother-in-law), Michelle now find herself becoming something of a mentor for four students in Fanny's ballet class: Sasha Torres (Julia Goldani Telles), Ginny Thompson (Bailey Buntain), Melanie Segal (Emma Dumont) and Bettina "Boo" Jordan (Kaitlyn Jenkins).

(L to R) Julia Goldanin Telles, Bailey Buntain, Emma Dumont and
Kaitlyn Jenkins. Photo by Andre Eccles. Copyright
ABC Family. All rights reserved

As you might expect, "Gilmore Girls" fans were quick to embrace "Bunheads." And not just because of this new ABC Family show featured the same sort of tight writing & smart, character-driven dialogue that they used to find (and love about) in Sherman-Pallidino's previous dramedy. But -- rather -- because all sort of former Stars Hollows residents have begun popping up with new names in Paradise.

And -- no -- I'm not just talking about Kelly Bishop. Who -- prior to playing Fanny Flowers in "Bunheads" -- so memorably portrayed society matron Emily Gilmore in "Gilmore Girls." I'm talking about how:

  • Rose Abdoo -- who played Gypsy, Star Hollows' resident auto mechanic -- now plays Sam, the owner of Paradise's Sparkles boutique.

(L to R) Sutton Foster, Rose Abdoo, Jon Polito and Casey Adler on last week's episode
of "Bunheads." Photo by Randy Holmes. Copyright ABC Family. All rights reserved

  • Jon Polito -- who played the Father in Kirk's film on "Gilmore Girls" -- now plays Sal, owner of Sal's Dancey Pants on "Bunheads"
  • Gregg Henry -- who played publishing giant Mitchum Huntzberger on that WB/CW comedy-drama -- now plays Rico, the burned-out surfer dude who runs Paradise's bar / burger joint.
  • Chris Eigeman -- who played Jason "Digger" Stiles, Lorelai's boyfriend during Season Four of "Gilmore Girls" -- played Conor, the director of a play that Michelle & Fanny saw during its out-of-town try-out in LA.

Michelle (Sutton Foster) and Davis (Todd Lowe) discuss how to repair a leak in the girls
dressing room at the Paradise Dance Studio. Copyright ABC Family. All rights reserved

  • Todd Lowe -- who played Lane Kim's bandmate / husband, Zach -- recently appeared on "Bunheads" as Paradise's one-eyed plumber, Davis.
  • Biff Yeager -- who played Tom (i.e. the Stars Hollows handyman who supervised the renovation of the Dragonfly Inn) -- now plays Bob, the co-owner of Paradise's hardware store.
  • Alex Borstein -- who played Drella, the rude harpist at the Independence Inn as well as Miss Celine, Emily Gilmore's name-dropping seamstress -- appeared as the hooker who lived next door to Michelle in Las Vegas in the "Bunheads" pilot.

Bash the barista (Sean Gunn) contemplates what kind of coffee he
should brew for Michelle (Sutton Foster). Copyright ABC Family.
All rights reserved

And given that --  just this past week --  Sean Gunn showed up on "Bunheads" as Bash, an award-winning barista whose obsession with creating the perfect blend of coffee for each individual customer rubs Michelle the wrong way (especially when this ex-showgirl is just looking to grab  a quick cup of Joe so that she can then back to Fanny's to teach a dance class) ... Well, the arrival of this Kirk-like character in Paradise sent Stars Hollows fans right over the moon.

So will Amy Sherman-Pallidino be hiring any other former "Gilmore Girls" cast members to play new characters on "Bunheads" ? Given that -- just this past Friday -- Amy learned that ABC Family is ordering an additional eight episodes of this dramedy (which is currently the No. 2 cable series in the 9 - 10 p.m. time slot on Monday nights among women 18-34) ... I'd have to say that this is a very distinct possibility.

So I ask all of your "Gilmore Girls" fans out there: Which former Stars Hollow residents would you now like to see show up as new characters on "Bunheads" when this ABC Family show returns with all-new episodes in January of 2013 (FYI: Tonight's episode -- "A Nutcracker in Paradise" -- which was originally supposed to be the Season One finale is now being described as this show's Summer finale)? Judging by what I've reading online, most "Gilmore Girls" fans would love to see either Scott Patterson (Luke Danes) or Michael Winters (Taylor Doose) pop in Paradise as new people. But what are your thoughts on this matter?

Copyright ABC Family. All rights reserved

And speaking of tonight's episode ... If you want to get some sense of what all the fuss is about, "Bunheads" airs tonight on ABC Family from 9 - 10 p.m. ET / PT.

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  • I will confess, the quick ads for this show left me with no desire to watch. But until I read this review, I had no idea of the talent involved in its creation and production! Since I, too, love and miss the quirky humor of the 'Gilmore Girls,'  I will be sure to give this show a try.

  • My wife got me into Gilmore Girls a few years ago via the DVDs, and it quickly became a favorite - I really wish I hadn't missed it during its original run. Bunheads has that comfy-old-shoe feel to it, although you can tell it's still very much in the process of figuring itself out. Great to hear that it's been extended.

    Guest-star-wise, I'll go for Edward Herrmann. I'd really like to see him play against type, maybe an old hippie who lives on the beach, or a rival dance instructor for Kelly Bishop to spar with. I mean, as long as we're getting the band back together....

  • edward herrman, Lauren graham, scott patterson

  • i  like it

  • If this show was about men, and contained the word "man" somewhere in the title, you can bet that there would be six sequels and a spinoff cartoon series by now.

  • I would LOVE to see Yanic Truesdale and Keiko Agena join the cast, as well as Liz Torres and Sally Struthers!

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