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Family and Advertiser Friendly, 10.19.00 ...

Here are key facts about the new TV series Gilmore Girls:

1) The hourlong comedy-drama about a single mom and her teen-age daughter is airing as part of an effort by major advertisers to create more family friendly shows.

2) It's on the youth-obsessed WB network, where people born before 1966 are as rare as denture adhesive ads.

Now here's the truth: Gilmore Girls is more than the sum of its parts. It's a fresh and disarming show that is (1) wholesome but not sanitized to the point of blandness; (2) a combination of youthful energy and mature smarts; and (3) funny without sitcom hokum.

While star-driven shows on the bigger networks grab the spotlight, this little gem (airing at 8 p.m. Thursdays on Channel 20) is worth a close look.

Still wary? Consider that Amy Sherman-Palladino, who dreamed up the series, named her company Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions. Parker, the wickedly sophisticated writer, might well have gotten a kick out of Gilmore Girls.

Lauren Graham stars as Lorelai Gilmore, a 32-year-old managing a country inn and raising 16-year-old Rory (Alexis Bledel) in a picture-perfect Connecticut town. The pilot for Gilmore Girls was developed with a pool of funds contributed by major advertisers including Procter & Gamble, General Motors and Sears, who pronounced themselves tired of hawking products on sexy and violent network shows.

The advertisers approached all the broadcast networks with their concerns, striking a deal with WB after it offered the most specific plan. WB supervises script development and decides which, if any, go into production; the advertisers agreed to bankroll at least eight scripts, which generally cost between $60,000 and $90,000.

In other words, the sponsors pay but don't have a say in a show's content.

"One thing we told them early on is this has to remain totally network-controlled creatively," says Jamie Kellner, WB chief executive officer.

Gilmore Girls fits the advertisers' intent because it's about "families that work, about a love-filled household with a successful woman and a successful child," Kellner says.
Credit: Associated Press

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