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I was a Gilmore Guy
My 15 seconds of fame with Lorelai and Rory
When I first got into this gig some 31 years ago, I quickly realized that not all journalists were created equal. When I attended press events at the parks, there was a pecking order. As a newspaper reporter, I and my ink-stained buddies were at the bottom of the media scrum. The ones being fawned over and getting all the special access and perks? That’d be the TV folks.
Fast forward to 2023, and things have changed. Social media darlings have somehow supplanted the media pack. As for newspapers, I and my contemporaries now sometimes get withering “okay boomer” looks. While broadcast TV may have lost some of its cachet, it still has an alluring appeal. There’s an enduring mystique about making it onto the tube that signals you are somebody.
For most of my career, I’ve been toiling away in relative obscurity online and in print. But every now and again, I’ve crossed over and been called up to the Show (to borrow a baseball term). For example, I was featured on CBS This Morning, was part of a CBS Sunday Morning segment, and, most recently, shared my expertise on a program for The History Channel.
But the breakthrough television moment for me–the one that people still mention even though it happened 16 years ago–was the time that I appeared on Gilmore Girls. Well, I didn’t appear exactly. Let me explain.
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The year was 2007, and I was writing for About.com, the (now defunct) online network that featured hundreds of “guides” who each covered a topic ranging from autos to religion to food and virtually anything and everything in-between. Starting in 2002, I was the theme parks guide and had built a sizable following. My articles regularly shot to the top of Google’s search engine result pages.
That must be how the Gilmore Girls writers discovered me as they were developing the script for the seventh-season closer and the series finale, Bon Voyage. As I understand it (and forgive me if I get the details wrong; despite its impact on me, I’m a bit chagrined to admit I never actually watched the show), the now-grown Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel), with her freshly minted college diploma in hand, is planning an epic, month-long road trip with her mom, Gilmore materfamilias Lorelai (Lauren Graham), before she flies the Connecticut coop. The Gilmore gals, who apparently have a thing for amusement parks, are going to plan their mother-daughter bonding getaway around–wait for it–the country’s best roller coasters.
In 2007, if you typed “best roller coasters” or some variation thereof into Google’s search bar, one of my articles would inevitably be among the first ones listed. (Often, I would have multiple entries in the first-page results.) So, in a case of art imitating life, Lorelai is shown at her laptop, reading aloud to her daughter what she has discovered as they plan their trip.
“After Great Adventure, the next roller coaster could be here at Lake Compounce, home of the Boulder Dash,” she says. “The number one choice for wooden roller coasters according to Mr. Arthur Levine of About.com.” Ms. G. was right. In 2007, the wonderful Connecticut coaster was my top pick for woodies. While rides such as The Voyage at Holiday World in Indiana have since eclipsed it, Boulder Dash is still way up there.
Sidebar brief: Lake Compounce has announced that its headlining coaster is being retrofitted with 580 feet (about 12% of its total) of Titan Track, the weld-free steel replacement track that should make the ride experience smoother. The refurbished attraction is set to debut when the park opens for the season on April 29. Who knows? Boulder Dash could climb in the rankings as a result of the upgrade.
“Oh yes, the venerable Mr. Levine, a legend in coaster criticism,” Rory responds.
“So you’ve heard of him?” Mom asks.
“Well of course. What coaster connoisseur hasn’t?” an incredulous Rory says.
Lorelai proceeds to read more from my article and then says the next stop on the tour should be The Cyclone at Coney Island before heading west to ride Millennium Force at Cedar Point. (In fairness, Millie never made any of my best coasters lists; Steel Vengeance on the other hand…)
And there you have it. The whole scene lasts about 45 seconds. If you happened to be raiding the refrigerator or taking a bathroom break, you’d miss it. And yet, gazillions of people seemingly saw it. Because the evening it aired and for weeks after, I got phone calls and emails from folks I hadn’t heard from in years. People I knew would stop me in the street and at the grocery store. And the episode reverberated through the industry and the coaster community. For a brief moment, I was a TV-ordained somebody.
Granted, The CW wasn’t one of the major broadcast networks, but it had a far enough reach. Also, this was in the days before streaming was a thing. The series finale garnered 4.9 million viewers, which was a decent rating (and would be a pretty dang fine rating today).
Lest you think I’m some publicity hound or that About.com sicced its PR flacks on the Gilmore Girls producers, neither I nor the company knew anything about it until right before the episode aired. It all happened organically. The only reason I had some advance notice is because a GG superfan who also wrote for About.com happened to watch a preview of the show online a couple of days before it was broadcast, and the clip included the aforementioned scene. She reached out to give me and About.com a heads up.
Here is a video of the scene. It’s a bit grainy and includes timecode for some reason, but it’s the best I could find.
If you want to watch the entire episode, it’s available to stream on Netflix. The streaming service also offered a follow-up series, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life for one season in 2016. It is still available on Netflix. Regrettably, the returning show had absolutely nothing to do with roller coasters, amusement parks, or me. Should there be a second season, maybe I should hound the producers.
Are you a Gilmore Girls fan? Before you read this article, had you seen the finale of the original series? If you have seen it, did you register the connection with me? If the revived series comes back for a second season, should we stage a massive write-in campaign to get the show to feature coasters–and, of course, me?