Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Gilmore Girls Backstory

I know how sad you all were hearing the news about Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband leaving Gilmore Girls the other day. You probably locked yourself in your bathroom and took a long bath while watching Golden Girls blocks on Lifetime.

But now Galley Friend M.R. sends along this truly awesome link discussing the fellow who's now running Gilmore, Dave Rosenthal.

Just a word of caution: If you think Gilmore is for girls, that's fine. You'll want to read this thing anyway. It's like a Chris Buckley version of how Hollywood works. (Except that Hollywood is the Chris Buckley version of itself.)

Hoping to learn more about this guy, I tracked down a rather infamous Los Angeles Times Magazine article on Rosenthal, written by Janet Reitman, from 2002, entitled "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Ranter." Informative reading to say the least. According to Reitman, Rosenthal's success in Hollywood was meteoric by anyone's standards. A 1989 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the son of a rabbi, Rosenthal moved to Los Angeles shortly after graduation to pursue his dream of writing sitcoms.

Within a year, Rosenthal swiftly jumped from being a production assistant on Anything but Love (a sitcom which starred Richard Lewis and Jamie Lee Curtis) to staff writer on the same show; then two years later, another jump, this time to a head writer position on Ellen (yes, that Ellen; Rosenthal stayed for three years and then was reportedly fired). After a year-long stint developing sitcoms for Jeffrey Katzenberg, he was hired as a writer on Michael J. Fox's sitcom Spin City... and was quickly promoted to showrunner. Rosenthal married a fellow Spin City writer, bought a house and a Porsche, and landed a lucrative $2.5 million contract with Fox Television. By all accounts, Rosenthal seemed to have the perfect life.

I know, who cares? Stay with me:

Going through my rolodex of Hollywood contacts, I stumbled upon someone who had actually worked with Dave Rosenthal in the past. I asked if I could ask her a few questions about Rosenthal and she agreed, as long as I maintained her anonymity. . . .

I asked "Julia" how she would describe Rosenthal, based on the time they worked together. . . .

"The guy quit Spin City in order to concentrate on writing a play about his desire to have sex with Heidi Klum," Julia told me. "Dropped out of TV completely to do this. He pretty much had a breakdown, dropped out of society, and became the madman writing a misogynist play. He lived like this until his dad read the play and actually had him committed."

No, really. It gets better:
After speaking to Julia, I did some more digging. Rosenthal had in fact written a play called "Love" about his quest to get supermodel Heidi Klum to have sex with him. Reviews of the play, which apparently contained so many profanities that it rated an NC-17, were not kind. The New York Times called Rosenthal's play "not only offensive but incompetent" and said that the way that Rosenthal talked about Klum--whom he had met during a guest stint on Rosenthal's show Spin City--was "as cruel and disgusting as actual stalking."

The New York Times reviewer wasn't the only one perturbed by Rosenthal's play. Rosenthal had sent copies to his then agents at Endeavor--Ari Emanuel and Richard Weitz--who promptly dropped him as a client. His rabbi father, after reading the play, had Rosenthal briefly committed at UCLA Medical Center.

You can pretend otherwise if you want, but you and I both know you're going to read the rest.


Anonymous said...

In sum:

Anything But Love = Crappy show which didn't last long.

Ellen = Crappy show in which during the last season the only reason it was on was because of the main character's self-outing. It is no longer on television and lasted way too long.

Spin City = Crappy show which lasted longer than it should have but is no longer on television.

Hollywood is amazing in that you can do really mediocre work and land a $2.5 million contract. At least in sports, athletes have to have some talent and actually show that talent.

Finally, Hollywood is filled with such nutbags that they walk away from $2.5 million to write a shitty play about their own supermodel sexual fantasy.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to bitch about free ice cream and all, but seriously, Last, if you're going to title a post "Gilmore Girls Backstory," you're going to have readers who are expecting that pun to come around in the end.

I mean, the double-entendre is knocking on the back door. Hard.

Bizarro Jack said...

Wow, that's really mind boggling. I know then-Sherman and then-Palladino's season or two of Roseanne was absolutely terrible, but skeletons in the closet is probably the least important credential when searching for a replacement . . .

Anonymous said...


That's depressing.

And this season is already the weakest of the six.

This show is going to suck next year. Big-time.

Can't any show that I like ever go out on a good note, or is that just my curse since the end of M*A*S*H? (Totally hated the season finale. Totally.)

Anonymous said...

So many who worked on Roseanne picked up her bad habits. Whedon? Acted like a jerk and basically copied Roseanne at her most obnoxious / mentally ill. Same for Sherman-Palladino. Heck this guy seems even worse. Yeah GG will suck. Big time.

What's sad is that there is no one who can be the new Stephen J Cannell. Think about it: Rockford Files, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Magnum PI, A-Team, Greatest American Hero, Wiseguy, even Riptide. The guy has an amazing run of amazing and classic TV that will last a long time.

Creating the A-Team alone earns him immortality. And what comes after?

WB-style crap.

Crank said...

OK, you made me read it. Actually, as I recall, the episodes where Michael J. Fox's character gets obsessed with Heidi Klum was pretty much the point where Spin City (which was a fine show for a while) went off the rails.

Also, I see from the comments I wasn't the only one who said to myself, "Julia Thorn"? John Kerry's first wife? WTF???