Exclusive Interview: David S. Rosenthal, Head Writer and Executive Producer on Gilmore Girls
Exclusive Interview: David S. Rosenthal, Head Writer and Executive Producer on Gilmore Girls
In another installment in our series of interviews with the best and brightest of TV's writers and producers, we at BuddyTV recently sat down with new Head Writer of Gilmore Girls, David S. Rosenthal ("Spin City", "Hope & Faith"). We were granted the pleasure of talking to Mr. Rosenthal about taking over an established show, the new direction the show's stories are taking, and the future of Gilmore Girls. Gilmore Girls can be seen every Tuesday at 8PM ET/PT on The CW. It's your first season as the new Show Runner on Gilmore Girls, taking over for creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. How has the transition been?
Good. I mean, it's been exciting. Amy created a wonderful show and she set the bar very high in terms of quality. So, you know, it's a lot to live up to and the fans are obviously very committed and loyal so I felt certainly a great responsibility to maintain that enthusiasm and, you know, it's been a really exciting season for me. I've really enjoyed the challenge. Amy Palladino wrote most of the episodes, correct? Yeah, she and her husband Dan wrote a good 80% of the episodes, sure. How hard was it to learn to replicate Amy's unique "voice" in your writing and how have you gone about replacing her output? Fortunately, I spent last year on the show as an Executive Producer and got to spend a lot of time working with Amy and Dan and kind of getting a feel for the show and the way it was run and written so I really felt like I had a good year under my belt to kind of get the lay of the land, then I brought in a staff of writers. There are eight of us working on the show which is a larger staff than they had in previous years so there's certainly more of a sharing of the workload in terms of the writing and all that stuff. So, it's been good. Ultimately, you definitely have to develop your own style and your own way of managing things and your own way of running a show. You know, I certainly tried to stay true to a lot of the things that have gone on here in the last six years and the way the show's been put together, and I certainly felt that continuity was an important part of my job as making people feel like its still the show they know and love and it's still Gilmore Girls. Obviously, I'm a different writer than Amy so I'm going to bring different things to the table but, ultimately, I think the characters she created and the world she created is so strong that it can hold both our points of view. Is it easier with the transition having actors that are already well-versed in the unique language of the show or is that kind of inconsequential for the writer? No, that's really helpful actually. They're really talented, gifted actors and they know their characters so well and they've been doing this for so long that it's really a huge benefit for us as writers. Also, creatively it's a nice thing cause if there's something that doesn't feel right to them or doesn't quite jive with how they feel about the character it's an easy thing to communicate with them about. It's actually really good since, obviously, they've been living these characters for seven years so they have a certain level of experience to draw on, which can be very helpful to us. A typical Gilmore Girls script is roughly 15 pages longer than a usual one hour drama, correct? Yeah, exactly right. We shoot like 77-78 page scripts, which is yes, substantially longer than the normal drama. Does that ever cause problems in the editing room or have you timed it out pretty perfectly by now? We've got the timing down pretty well. Typically on a show one page of script equals one minute, but on our show one page is significantly less than a minute. So, yeah, we just are able to pack more in an episode than most shows, at least in terms of dialogue and in terms of the number of scenes. And, you know, it's a lot to ask of the crew because they have to shoot 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 a tone that Amy established that has really worked well for the show, so it's certainly something that I wanted to continue. Before the show, did you and your new staff map out a game plan for the rest or the season, in terms of the story lines, or are you playing it by ear? No, no. We sat down and we mapped out an arc for the season: a beginning, middle, and end for all the characters and the relationships. You really want to plan ahead and really want to know where you're going so you can build the things and set things in motion early on that can pay off later. Obviously, as you go through the season things develop and story lines emerge or you respond strongly to certain things. They can certainly shift and change but we definitely spent the beginning of the season really mapping it out and really trying to get a handle on the whole arc of the season. Where we wanted to start, where we wanted to go, where we wanted to end up. That's a very important part of what we do.
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This interview is the third in a series of BuddyTV interviews with the creators, writers, and producers behind many of TV's hit shows. Next week, check back to BuddyTV for an exclusive interview with Jon Rabin Baitz, Creator and Executive Producer of ABC's Brothers & Sisters. Thus far, we've featured an interview with the creator of The Nine, Hank Steinberg, and an interview with the creators of The Class, David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik.

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