Floating around eBay and the Internet is the ‘revised writer’s draft’ of the Gilmore Girls pilot episode script, written by Amy Sherman-Palladino back in January 2000. It offers a glimpse into what might have been, demonstrates a gutsy assuredness in key scenes and shows the difference a little spit and polish made to the final pilot.
The big differences are shocking:
In celebration of Rory getting a place at Chilton, Lorelai cooks a celebratory meal of meatloaf, mac and cheese, and a salad that Rory likes with sugared walnuts and blue cheese. Lorelai COOKS. And they eat salad. It’s just wrong.
Dean is handsome (“the beautiful stranger”) but doesn’t come off as smart. He *doesn’t* identify the Ruth Gordon reference from Rosemary’s Baby. In fact he doesn’t do much at all. There’s no scene where he and Rory walk over to Miss Patty’s where Rory talks about circular cakes and he monologues about noticing seeing her reading Moby Dick with ridiculous concentration. He never tells her that he thought “I have to meet that girl”. It’s an important scene because it makes their connection stronger – he smoulders and she loses her smart girl focus – so much that she loses her enthusiasm for Chilton.
Luke’s is called Duke’s Cup. Luke is often referred to as Duke. There’s no Drella (the harpist with the attitude as big as her harp) – which makes sense if this was written when Alex Borstein was still slated to play Sookie. The Inn is bigger and has more staff, who are more involved: a ditzy girl named Judy is a desk clerk at the Independence Inn, working alongside Michel the concierge. Judy’s aunt and uncle own the Inn but she’s hopeless. A guy called Dereck is the valet parker and is smitten with Lorelai. Lorelai has her own back office.
All the references to “ass” in the script change to “butt” in the show. A reference to Kid Rock becomes Eminem. Christopher goes from being a lawyer with his own practice to having an internet startup that went public. Rory shrinks an inch from five-eight to five-seven and the buses from Stars Hollow to Hartford run ten minutes quicker, taking forty minutes on the page but thirty minutes in the episode.
Lane’s outfit is weirdly identical to the script:
[Lane] opens her backpack, takes out a “Woodstock ’99′” tee shirt, and puts it on over her pink thermal tee.
Guess who these descriptions are:
? is a scruffy though handsome man in his thirties with the body of a fireman under than apron.
? is a distinguished looking woman in her early sixties. Her dress is impeccable, her hair is perfect and the pearls are real.
Her forearm’s bandaged, there’s a splint on her left little finger and Band-Aids all over her arms.
? is a very intense looking, dark eyed, weirdly amazing looking guy.
? is a very attractive, extremely intolerant black man in his late thirties.
? is a very attractive, vibrant, thirty three year old woman, though she could easily pass for twenties.
There’s a weird line where Richard addresses Lorelai as Rory. The transcriber Gaby notes that this might be an accident in the script itself.
A couple of the scenes are merged together but despite the differences above, it’s pretty much all there. Some of the lines are made less clunky or quicker with the addition of quickfire banter. A noticeable omission is Lorelai’s funny line here, that isn’t in the pilot script:
Richard: I’ll get the checkbook.
Lorelai: Thank you. I can’t tell you… thank you.
Emily: On one condition.
Lorelai: So close.
In the script, she just says “A condition?”
But the Marco-Polo-ing around Kim’s Antiques is there – check. Macy Gray on their CD players – check. Coffeecoffeecoffee – checkcheckcheck (opening begging scene, building up Dutch courage outside Richard and Emily’s both times, in the diner at the end).
The dinner scene, with the four of them finally at the table, is practically identical and three of my favourite laugh-out-loud moments are all there on paper: Lorelai putting her coffee cup in the ‘forbidden’ dustbin, Richard handing Rory the newspaper without looking and the camera panning to him having fallen asleep.
If you haven’t read it, it’s fairly enlightening and an excuse to re-watch how well they nailed the feel of the show and the characters from the get-go. Well, except Dean but maybe this was before Jess was a twinkle in someone’s eye and they were doing what they needed to do to get the studio and an audience on board.
The whole unaired transcription is available here:
… and people seem to be selling the same thing on eBay with dummy autographs of the cast on the front cover.
Can you see them going for coffee at Duke’s Cup? Would Lorelai have been that different if she cooked – and the girls willingly ate salad? What do you think was intended for Judy and Dereck? Maybe the Inn was meant as a comedic focal point, like Everybody Loves Raymond’s house or the Cheers bar – but they were able to expand to more locations, like Miss Patty’s and the town square.
What do you think?