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Gilmore Girls' in the 'Hood, 02.23.01 ...

Lauren Graham is looking forward to her character, Lorelai Gilmore, encountering the father of her daughter on this week's (March 1) "Gilmore Girls." This incredibly well-written and well-acted series, set in a quirky Connecticut town, airs at 8 p.m. Thursdays on The WB.

"I'm really excited about the character of the father," Graham said. David Sutcliffe guest-stars as Christopher. He appeared briefly last Thursday, and this week's episode will focus on him and how well he connects with Lorelai and their daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel).

Christopher and Lorelai had Rory when they were teen-agers. They decided not to get married.

In the 16 years since Rory's birth, the father really hasn't grown up, said Amy Sherman-Palladino, the very outgoing creator and executive producer of "Gilmore Girls." "The dad is still a bit of a 16-year-old."

The cast and producers talked to reporters recently on the bed-and-breakfast set of the "Gilmore Girls" at Warner Bros. Studios.

In creating "Gilmore Girls," Sherman-Palladino said she wanted a more realistic portrayal of teen-agers on TV. The series is the first to make it on the air with support from the Family Friendly Forum's Script Development Fund.

Sherman-Palladino is critical of television for focusing so much on teen-age sex and ignoring the less sensational but still important aspects of teen-age life.

"In all of America, there's not more than one or two kids who haven't slept with someone else," Sherman-Palladino said, referring to teen-age characters on TV.

"They (the actors playing teen-agers) all look like they're 35 and, of course, they had sex at age 12," Sherman-Palladino said. In Hollywood, it's common for adults in their early- or even mid-20s to play teen-agers. Actors under age 18 fall under the work and school restrictions of California law. Bledel, who plays 16-year-old Rory, is 18, which makes her closer to her character's age than many "teen" stars.

"I go back, and I honestly wasn't sleeping around at age 16," Sherman-Palladino said.

"Rory's first-kiss episode is so much more charming," she said. "You're missing all the good stuff (if the focus is on sex)."

Graham, who's appearing in the recently released romantic comedy "Sweet November" with Charlize Theron and Keanu Reeves, can relate to Rory, who is being raised by a single mother. "I was raised by a single dad. I was more of a Rory-type character," Graham said.

"The series is clearly the most family-friendly show that I've ever seen, even more so than my real life," Graham said. "It's clearly fiction. It's a smart version of how life could be."

The cast members like their characters a lot, despite - or even because of - their flaws.

"I'd like to see her not change very much," said Kelly Bishop, who plays the stubborn, snobbish grandmother, Emily Gilmore.

She said she liked a recent scene in which Lorelai and Emily go to the hospital after grandfather Richard Gilmore (TV veteran Edward Herrmann) suffers a mild stroke. Emily is demanding loudly to be allowed to see her husband. Lorelai doesn't waste time arguing and goes through the doors that say "authorized personnel only."

"I didn't know you could do that," a stunned and suddenly calmer Emily says in the episode.

"Emily was very inspired by Lorelai's forthright manner," Bishop said.

The entire cast is quick to praise Bledel, an actress/model who seems somewhat shy away from the camera. On and off camera, she appears very sincere, and maybe the shyness works for her in that regard.

"What she doesn't know she wants to learn," Herrmann said. "She has an intelligence that shines."

Bishop echoed the praise.

Bledel nearly blushed. "Thanks," the actress said. "I'm so embarrassed!" She sounded like a real teen-ager, not just someone who plays one on TV.
Credit: Ventura County Star

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