'Gilmore Girls' co-creator returns with 'Jezebel James'

by Ellen Gray

Philadelphia Daily News (MCT)

13 March 2008


For “Gilmore Girls” fans, Fox’s “The Return of Jezebel James” might just as well have been called “The Return of Amy Sherman-Palladino.”

For the rest of you, either unfamiliar with or unmoved by the fast-talking writer and her famously fast-talking characters, it’s “Jezebel James” you might be waiting to meet as the sitcom launches with back-to-back episodes Friday night at 8 and 8:30 EDT.

Worry not. All will be explained. Sort of.

And likely pretty much forgotten after that.

If Sherman-Palladino, who’s once again partnering with her husband, Daniel Palladino, had named “Gilmore Girls” after an unseen resident of Stars Hollow - perhaps one who’d moved away before Rory (Alexis Bledel) was born - it might have been only slightly less obscure than titling a show about odd-couple sisters named Sarah (Parker Posey) and Coco (“Six Feet Under’s” Lauren Ambrose) “Jezebel James.” But you should try not to worry about that.

In fact, you should probably check any form of skepticism at the door, because Sherman-Palladino has always had her own way of doing things, and there’s every indication that she still does.

Our job, along with that of the actors, is simply to try to keep up.

But Fox has its own way of doing things, too, and somewhere along the line, it decided to cut “Jezebel James” down to seven episodes from 13. Sometime after that, a plan for an out-of-time slot premiere after “American Idol” - something done twice last week for “New Amsterdam” - was scrapped so that we could get an extra half-hour of watching Ryan Seacrest vamp as the less-popular kids twist slowly in the wind on Wednesday’s results show.

Yes, “24” may not be back till next season, but Fox hasn’t yet disavowed torture.

Funny thing is, “The Return of Jezebel James” is often actually funny, a screwball comedy for people who think screwball doesn’t have to mean the introduction of monkeys to what used to be very private places.

Posey, a bundle of nervous energy who makes Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) seem decaffeinated, is a children’s book editor in Manhattan who, brittle after a breakup, is engaged in a theoretically emotion-free affair with a guy named Marcus (“Gilmore” veteran Scott Cohen).

Having decided on a whim that it might be time to have a baby, she finds her hopes dashed immediately when her gynecologist informs her that she has a condition - a real one, I looked it up - that makes babymaking impossible.

Sure, in real life, this diagnosis might involve months of invasive testing and multiple insurance forms, but then in real life, a children’s book editor would be occupying a much smaller and far less luxurious slice of Manhattan.

So just take Sherman-Palladino’s word for it: Sarah can’t have a baby. But that doesn’t mean she can’t have a great apartment (which you’ll be getting a much better look at in the second episode, when it will appear that Sarah’s moved during the commercial break, and acquired all new furniture).

Enter Coco, whose past living arrangements have included rehab facilities and at least one Chinese restaurant but whose womb is presumably penthouse-quality. (Ambrose, who does sweet and sour equally well, certainly is.)

I think you can see where this one is going. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are on their way there right now, in the upcoming film “Baby Mama.” But Sherman-Palladino, who prides herself on what she calls “chicks talking to each other,” is presumably interested in bouncing the sisters against each other for a while before there are any bouncing babies.

If one ever arrives, maybe she’ll call her Jezebel James.


If you’ve been loitering impatiently outside the door of Hulu.com, waiting till the online video site’s “private beta” period ended, that day is here.

Remember the NBC shows that disappeared from iTunes a while back? Here’s where they went, along with shows from Fox, plus an assortment of movies and old TV series.

There being no such thing as a free lunch, all this stuff’s streamed with commercials that can’t be skipped, but the commercials are short and the selection’s long.

Thanks to YouTube, networks are obsessed with having a place for their clips that they actually control, and NBC Universal and Fox parent News Corp. appear to be no exception. But unless you’re similarly obsessed, you might want to skip the home page and go immediately to “Browse Titles,” where you’ll find first-season episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” co-existing with “McHale’s Navy.”

Yes, NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” is there, along with Fox’s “Moment of Truth,” but at least on Hulu, you can’t say you’re watching them because there’s nothing else on.

//Mixed media