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Visit to tiny town led to show idea

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Part of the joy of "Gilmore Girls" is the world in which all the characters live — a sort of "Northern Exposure"-esque town where everybody knows your name and people love and support one another. The fictional Stars Hollow, Conn., grew out of a trip to Connecticut last year by California born-and-raised creator/executive-producer Amy Sherman-Palladino.

"My husband and I were getting on a plane to go to New York, which is what Jewish girls in the Valley do — they just go to New York," Sherman-Palladino said. "And we were going to drive through Connecticut because we had to go look to Mark Twain's house and get some decorating tips. I swear . . . that's my world."

"That's true," confirmed Lauren Graham, who stars as Loralai Gilmore.

"So we drove through Connecticut and we stayed at . . . the Mayflower Inn in Washington, Conn.," Sherman-Palladino said. "And, you know, I'm from Van Nuys. Everything is brown and there's a train track and that's it. And Ralph's.

"We're driving by, and people are slowing down saying, 'Excuse me, where is the pumpkin patch?' And everything is green and people are out, and they're talking. And we went to a diner and everyone knew each other and someone got up and they walked behind the (counter) and they got their own coffee because the waitress was busy, and I'm, like, 'Is this out of central casting? Who staged this thing for me?'

"And the inn was so beautiful. And everything looked like it was covered in sugar. It was just like one of those eggs that you stare in at Easter."

She took a lot of notes and, by the next morning, had worked out much of the show — even written dialogue that ended up in the pilot episode.

"If I can make people feel this much of what I felt walking around this fairy town, I thought that would be wonderful," Sherman-Palladino said.

"Now, I've never been there in winter, when you're snowed in and you can't go anywhere, and you and your husband want to kill each other because you can't go to a movie. But at the time I was there, it was beautiful, it was magical, and it was feeling of warmth and small-town camaraderie. . . . There was a longing for that in my own life, and I thought — that's something that I would really love to put out there."

E-mail: pierce@desnews.com