Rory Meets Francie in a Parking Garage

[Rory walks through an empty parking garage. She hears a noise, and turns to find Francie]
FRANCIE: Good, you’re here. We need to talk.

This scene is based on the Watergate investigation by Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, who secretly met a contact known as “Deep Throat” in a parking garage between 1972 and 1973. Their information would help lead to the uncovering of the greatets scandal in US history, and the eventual resignation of President Richard Nixon.

In 2005, attorney Mark Felt would out himself as Deep Throat, after which Bob Woodward told everyone exactly where they had met – Space D3 in The Quotidian Underground Parking Garage beneath the Oakhill Office Building in Rosslyn, Virginia [pictured]. It has since become a tourist attraction.

Joan Didion

PARIS: Watch Choate get Joan Didion …

Joan Didion (1934-2021), journalist and author, considered one of the pioneers of New Journalism, along with such figures as Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson. Didion’s career began in the 1950s when she won an essay contest sponsored by Vogue.

Her writing in the 1960s and ’70s focused on the counterculture, Hollywood lifestyle, and Californian culture and history. In the 1980s and ’90s, her writing concentrated on the subtext of political and social rhetoric. In1991, she wrote the earliest mainstream media article to suggest the Central Park Five, previously discussed, were innocent.

She won the 2005 National Book Award for her memoir about the year following the death of her husband, The Year of Magical Thinking. In premiered as a Broadway play in 2007. In 2013, she was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama.

At this time, Didion had just won the St Louis Literary Prize in 2002, and had recently released her 2001 book of essays, Political Fictions. Her essays on the history and culture of California, Where I Was From, was due to be published in September 2003.

Joan Didion was the first woman to give the commencement address at the University of California in 1975, which is presumably why Paris thinks of her. Her address began with a few charming anecdotes about her own youth, before she launched into a blistering attack on her generation in the 1960s, and its refusal to face up to reality.

A quote from the speech that I think Paris would have warmed to:

“Planting a tree can be a useful and pleasant thing to do. Planting a tree is not a way of life. Planting a tree as a philosophical mode is just not good enough.”

There is no record of her giving a speech at Choate at any time, so it seems as if they didn’t get her after all.

Dan Rather

SOOKIE: They still say, ‘And now the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather.’ You see? Dan is still associated with it even though he’s off snorkeling or something, just like I’m gonna be associated with the dinner because Bob is substituting for Sookie.

Daniel “Dan” Rather (born 1931), journalist, commentator, and former national evening news anchor. Rather became a national name after his reporting saved thousands of lives during Hurricane Carla in 1961, creating the first radar weather report, and helping to initiate the successful evacuation of 350,000 people.

Rather reported on some of the most significant events of the modern age, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Gulf war, 9/11, the second Iraq war, and the war on terror. He famously reported from Dallas at the time of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. He was promoted at CBS News, where he served as White House correspondent beginning in 1964. He covered the presidency of Richard Nixon, including the Watergate scandal, and the president’s resignation.

In 1981, Rather was promoted to news anchor for the CBS Evening News, a role he occupied for 24 years. Along with Peter Jennings at ABC News and Tom Brokaw at NBC News, he was one of the “Big Three” nightly news anchors from the 1980s through the early 2000s. He frequently contributed to CBS’s weekly news magazine, 60 Minutes.

After a 2005 controversy over fabricated documents, he was fired in 2006. He now has a news program on cable television, a Youtube channel, and a Substack newsletter.

Deep-fried Mars Bar

MADELINE: So there’s only gonna be one seventy-fourth anniversary issue ever and we didn’t do anything special for it.

LOUISE: I think the cover was of a deep-fried Mars bar.

A deep-fried Mars Bar is one which has been battered then deep-fried in oil. The dish has been claimed as originating at a chip shop in Stonehaven, Scotland in 1992, although this has been disputed, with others saying it had been sold elsewhere in Scotland in the 1980s. It became a media sensation in the mid-1990s and through the early 2000s as a symbol of unhealthy eating.

The dish isn’t common in the US, and the American Mars Bar is not the same as the one sold in the UK. The Mars Bar sold everywhere else in the world is caramel and nougat coated with milk chocolate. The US version is nougat and almonds covered in milk chocolate. At some point which nobody seems able to identify, caramel got added in there, but the bar was discontinued in 2002. When it was brought back in 2016, it was the “original” recipe without caramel.

Presumably the Franklin was covering the deep-fried Mars Bar as part of the media interest in it.


MADELINE: But you guys already have some decent stuff planned out, right?

PARIS: Madeline – or may I call you Spicoli?

Paris references the 1982 coming-of-age comedy-drama Fast Times at Ridgemont High, directed by Amy Heckerling (in her directorial debut). The screenplay is by Cameron Crowe, based on his 1981 book Fast Times at Ridgemont High: A True Story – Crowe went undercover at a high school in San Diego and wrote abut his experiences.

The ensemble cast includes Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brian Backer, Robert Romanus, Phoebe Cates, and Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli [pictured], a permanently stoned surfer – Paris is suggesting Madeline is out of touch with reality as if she is on drugs. The film also marks early appearances by several actors who later became stars, including Nicolas Cage, Eric Stoltz, and Forest Whitaker (the first two in their feature film debuts).

The film initially had modest commercial and critical success, but was a sleeper hit due to word of mouth, and over time became more popular through television broadcasts and home video releases. It is now regarded as a classic and iconic film, and one of the best comedies, as well as one of the greatest high school movies.

The soundtrack to the film peaked at #54 on the album charts and features the work of many quintessential 1980s rock artists, including Jackson Browne, The Go-Go’s, and Jimmy Buffett.

For Keeps

SHERRY: Well, then where’d you get your information on child raising? Your mom?

LORELAI: No, For Keeps. Uh, Molly Ringwald, Randall Bantikoff, really underrated little post-John Hughes flick. She went to the prom fat. I found it really inspirational.

For Keeps, a 1988 coming of age comedy drama directed by John G. Avildsen and starring Molly Ringwald and Randall Bantikoff as Darcy and Stan, two high school seniors who are in love. Darcy gets pregnant just before graduation and decides to keep the baby. It was Ringwald’s final teen movie, and is considered one of her most mature performances, especially in the scene where Darcy develops postpartum depression. (Like Rory, Darcy works on the school paper and plans to study journalism at college). The film was a box office success, and received mixed reviews, with the positive ones mostly for Ringwald’s performance.

As the film came out in January 1988, when Rory had already turned three, it’s hard to see how it could have “inspired” Lorelai during her pregnancy.

Note that this is another occasion when pregnancy and being “fat” are conflated, which is becoming a rather disturbing trend, and no surprise, this is another Daniel Palladino script.

Forty Days

This book is on Luke’s book shelf. Forty Days is a 1992 non-fiction book by Bob Simon, an award-winning veteran journalist for CBS News. The book describes the forty days he spent being imprisoned and tortured by the Iraqis after being captured, along with four of his crew, during the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

It’s not clear whether Luke or Jess is reading the book – but like Lorelai and Rory, there is a good chance that they share books anyway. If it’s Luke’s book, it shows that, like Jess, he has an interest in journalism. (It feels as if everyone is interested in journalism on Gilmore Girls!).

Christiane Amanpour’s Situation

RORY: Christiane Amanpour spends half of her life standing in foxholes in third world countries, and she has a husband and a kid. And she was on C-SPAN last week getting some award, so if she and her husband can make it work, we can.

DEAN: So we’ll have access to the CNN jet?

Christiane Amanpour, previously discussed as Rory’s idol. From 1998 to 2018 she was married to James Rubin (born 1960), former Assistant Secretary of State and spokesman for the US State Department during the Clinton administration, and was an informal adviser to Hillary Clinton. Their son Darius Rubin was born in 2000, so aged two years old at this time. Because of Amanpour’s career, her husband James did spend a lot of time home alone with the baby, keeping in touch with his wife by telephone.

In real life, Amanpour received two awards in 2002. The Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism was presented to her at Harvard in March, and the Edward R. Murrow Award for Distinguished Achievement in Broadcast Journalism was presented to her at Washington State University in May. Neither of those were “last week” from Rory’s perspective, although it’s possible she only saw the broadcast of one of them on C-SPAN the week before.

Christiane Amanpour worked for CNN from 1983 to 2010, so throughout the run of Gilmore Girls. As chief foreign correspondent, she reported on crises from many of the world’s hotspots, and in 2002 had filed reports from the Gaza Strip, famously interviewing Yasser Arafat in his compound by phone.

[Picture shows Christiane Amanpour, her husband James, and son Darius in London, 2003]