March 3, 2008

Amy Sherman-Palladino Makes Her TV Comeback

The NY Times ran a piece on Amy Sherman-Palladino the writer/creator of The Gilmore Girls on her return to TV with The Return of Jezebel James starring Parker Posey and Lauren Ambrose. The fact that she was called an auteur in headline is progress itself. Auteur is usually associated with male directors especially in the film business. It's much harder for a woman to be called an auteur in the movies (probably because there are so few female film directors.)

But on TV there has been a strong history of female auteurs including Diane English (remember Murphy Brown? I still miss it), Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (Designing Women), Susan Harris (The Golden Girls), Roseanne, and now Shonda Rhimes. One of the things I've always noticed about strong women (you know those pesky women with opinions and thoughts) in any business that we (I am one!) are quickly put into the bitch box. It's thanks to Tina Fey (on SNL last week) that we can all now embrace our inner bitch because "bitch is the new black."

Sherman-Palladino has one of those legendary stories that only happen in showbiz about being kicked off her own show in a contract dispute. She left the Gilmore Girls the season before its last, and those who loved the show know full well that her departure was the cause of its demise. Some shows just cannot survive without the "birth parent" on set. (Case in point- The West Wing. Show was just not as good after Aaron Sorkin left.) Btw she seems to get along fine with her creative partner and husband Daniel (but she is clearly the visionary getting the lion's share of publicity and the lion's share of the crap that goes with that.)

Some quotes from the piece:

Within the television industry Ms. Sherman-Palladino, a spunky, sarcastic writer with a penchant for gothic top hats and fishnet stockings, is recognized as a unique talent, but also a challenging one.
Ms. Sherman-Palladino said that she always provided pitches and outlines well in advance, and that the industry’s most esteemed show runners of that era were not expected to submit finished scripts. Joss Whedon never gave anyone a script,” she said. Aaron Sorkin never gave anyone a script.”
Could it be that there is a double standard between female and male showrunners? Really, that would mean we live in a sexist world and we all know that everything's equal now, right?
“It’s hopefully funny in a way that only girls can be funny,” Ms. Ambrose said. When an actor works in television, she said, “they own you, but when somebody like Amy’s in charge, who’s passionate and very determined, you go, ‘O.K., I’ll put my life for the next thousand years in her hands.’ ”
“The first few years at ‘Gilmore,’ ” Ms. Sherman-Palladino said, “I really spent way too much time talking to person after person after person, about marketing and support, and how we’re not just a chick show, we can do more than sell tampons. It never got us anything. It came down to when the audience discovered it, they watched it, and then all of a sudden everybody liked it.”
Hopefully now that it's almost a decade later and that women are appear and are leads in many hit shows, this new show will not get pegged as the TV equivalent of the chick flick.

Check out the full piece: Auteur Writes Herself Another Chance

Show premieres on Fox on March 14th.