Princeton University and Ivy League College Consultant

PARIS: My panelists are Jim Romaine, admissions officer at Princeton University, and Ivy League college consultant, Rose Samuels.

Princeton University, previously discussed. Paris’ boyfriend attends Princeton – I don’t know whether that had any bearing on Paris getting their admissions officer on their panel. I wouldn’t put it past Paris, though.

Jim Romaine and Rose Samuels are of course fictional characters, played by Philip Pavel and Karen Bankhead respectively.

In real life, an admissions officer at Princeton University, Stephen LeMenager, had just been removed (in August 2002) after gaining unauthorised access to student’s files on a Yale admissions website the previous April. The investigation and subsequent scandal may have been what put the idea of using Princeton in this episode – they could have had a representative from any Ivy League university, after all.

Ivy League college consultants, also called independent education counsellors, work with students and their parents to decide which schools a student should apply to. They also guide them through the application and essay-writing processes. Top tier college consultants can cost a small fortune, so this is yet another area where being very wealthy can help you on your path to college.

French Skating Judges

RORY: We are not supposed to be brokering backdoor deals and pushing through agendas with intimidation and bribery. I mean, what are we, French skating judges?

Rory refers to the figure skating scandal of the 2002 Winter Olympics, held in Salt Lake City, Utah, in February of that year.

It was alleged that the pairs’ figure skating competition had been fixed, in which a French judge had compromised scores. The Russian team was awarded the gold, to a furious reaction from Canadian commentators, who believed that their team’s performance was clearly superior. The US press supported Canada, and suspicion quickly fell on the French judge, Marie-Reine Le Gougne. Le Gougne admitted being pressured to choose the Russian team, but later denied any wrongdoing.

After limited investigation of the issues, a second award ceremony was held, and two pairs teams received gold medals: the Russian team, and also the silver medalists, from Canada [pictured]. As a result of this scandal, the International Skating Union suspended two officials for three years: Marie-Reine Le Gougne, and the head of the French skating federation. A Russian organised crime boss was arrested for fixing the Olympics while in Italy, but released due to lack of evidence.

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman”

PARIS: [sleep talking] I did not have sexual relations with that woman.

Paris refers to the Clinton-Lewinsky sex scandal, involving then-President Bill Clinton (born William Blythe III in 1946) and 24-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky (born 1973), which took place in 1998. Their sexual relationship lasted between 1995 and 1997.

Clinton ended a televised speech in late January 1998 with the statement that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky”. Further investigation led to charges of perjury and to the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998 by the US House of Representatives. He was subsequently acquitted on all impeachment charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in a US. Senate trial.

Harry Thomason worked as an image consultant during the scandal, ending up testifying before the Lewinsky Grand Jury. This seems to be why Paris mentions him during her dream argument – she appears to be having an argument about the Lewinsky scandal, although whether she is supporting either party in the case is unclear.

Jessica Hahn

LORELAI: Instead, I got pregnant. I didn’t finish high school, I didn’t marry your father and I ended up in a career that apparently Jessica Hahn would think was beneath her.

Jessica Hahn (born 1959), model and actress. She accused televangelist Jim Bakker of rape while employed as a church secretary. After the 1987 scandal, Hahn posed nude for Playboy, appeared in several television shows, including Married … with Children, and was a frequent guest on The Howard Stern Show on radio in the 1980s through to the 2000s.

Charlie Rose

MISS PATTY: Transcript?

LORELAI: Yeah, Taylor, this isn’t Charlie Rose.

Charlie Rose, television interview and talk show, hosted by journalist Charles “Charlie” Rose (born 1942). Rose interviewed thinkers, writers, athletes, politicians, entertainers, business people, leaders, scientists, and fellow journalists. It was broadcast on PBS from 1991 to 2017, only coming to an end when Rose was accused of sexual harassment. The show was then replaced by one hosted by Christiane Amanpour. Transcripts of the show were made available online after broadcast, and in fact many of them still are.

Florida People and Anita Bryant

RICHARD: Oh, I always start my breakfast off with half a grapefruit.
LORELAI: Hm, do the Florida people know about you? Because Anita Bryant left this huge gap that has yet to be filled.

Anita Bryant (born 1940), previously mentioned. Singer who had a string of hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and was Miss Oklahoma 1958.

In 1969, she was chosen as the ambassador for the Florida Citrus Commission, with commercials featuring her singing Come to the Florida Sunshine Tree, and saying the tagline, “Breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine”.

In 1977 she became a controversial figure as an anti-gay rights activist, leading a coalition of conservative Christians who wished anti-discrimination legislation to be repealed. They were successful, but earned the ire of gay-rights activists, who organised a ban against orange juice. She became an object of ridicule, and after her divorce in 1980, the Florida Citrus Commission allowed her contract to lapse. This is the “huge gap” that Lorelai suggests Richard might like to fill. It also seems to be another comment about censorship.

Clarence Thomas

LORELAI: You’ll say hello, you’ll ask how his wife is, and that’s it. After that, you will say nothing, you will do nothing, you will sit in the corner and offer no opinions and pull a full-on Clarence Thomas, am I making myself perfectly clear?

Clarence Thomas (born 1948), associate justice of the US Supreme Court since 1991, the longest-serving member of the court to this date, and often cited as the most conservative.

At the time of his confirmation hearings that would see him confirmed for the Supreme Court position, Thomas was already reticent on answering questions from senators about his philosophical stance, in the belief that his conservative views could see him rejected.

However, he refused to answer any questions as his final approval was being debated, when a woman named Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment involving making sexual comments to her. Hill was questioned aggressively, and Thomas defended his right to privacy. He said that they were turning his appointment into a circus, and he refused to participate in what he saw as a racist exercise. He was voted in a week later.

I think this is what Lorelai is referring to, telling Emily to keep her mouth as tightly shut as Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings.

Woody and Soon-Yi

RORY: I thought maybe a certain depressed man and his wife could stay there.
LORELAI: Woody and Soon-Yi?

Woody Allen (born Allan Konigsberg in 1935), multi award-winning actor and film director, famous for films such as Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), and Crimes and Misdemeanours (1989). When acting a role in a comedy film, he often played a depressed, anxious, or neurotic character.

Allen had been in a long-term relationship with Mia Farrow since 1979 when, in 1991 or 1992, he embarked on an affair with Farrow’s adopted daughter from a previous marriage, Soon-Yi Previn (born circa 1970), then a college student. There was an immediate scandal when the affair became public knowledge – not only because of the age gap, but due to the perceived familial relationship. Allen denied being Soon-Yi’s stepfather, or being a father figure to her, although he did describe his role in their romantic relationship as “paternal”.

Allen and Previn married in 1997, and have since adopted two children. Woody Allen has continued making films, although his career did founder in the early 2000s – when this episode aired, his most recent offering was the costly failure, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001). However, he went on to make successful films set in Europe later that decade. Recently he has gained acclaim for films such as Blue Jasmine (2013) and Cafe Society (2018), and is regarded as a cinematic genius.

Tammy Faye Bakker

RORY (looking at photo of Sherry): Nice looking lady.
LORELAI: Mm hmm. Like a young Tammy Faye Bakker.
RORY: But prettier than that.

Tammy Faye Bakker, born Tamara LaValley (1942-2007) was the ex-wife of television evangelist Jim Bakker (born 1940). She and her husband ran a televangelist program called the PTL Club, founded in 1974; it was dissolved in 1989 when Jim Bakker was convicted and imprisoned on indicted on numerous counts of fraud and conspiracy. Tammy Faye divorced Jim in 1992, and married Roe Messner, a church building contractor (so by this stage she was actually Tammy Faye Messner).

Tammy Faye was known for her eccentric and glamorous image, and her views which often diverged from mainstream evangelical Christianity. For example, she supported the LGBT community, and reached out to HIV positive patients at the height of the AIDS epidemic. She was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1996, so was already terminally ill when this episode aired.

It is unclear what age “young” Tammy Faye Bakker was that Lorelai believes Sherry resembles. Knowing what Sherry actually looks like, perhaps when Tammy Faye’s hair was brown, before she dyed it blonde. That would have been in the 1960s, when Tammy Faye and her husband Jim had a puppet show on a Christian TV network.

The viewer may decide for themselves whether Sherry looks like Tammy Faye Bakker at any age, but I personally cannot see any strong resemblance (I can barely see a weak resemblance). I’m surprised that Rory doesn’t disagree any more strenuously than by saying Sherry is “prettier than that”, and can only think that she walks on eggshells when it comes to her mother’s jealousy over Sherry.

I’m not sure how Lorelai’s frame of reference for picturing a young Tammy Faye Bakker is in the 1960s, before Lorelai was born. I find this whole reference quite confusing.

Anne Heche

SOOKIE: We are crazy for doing this.
LORELAI: We’re beyond crazy. We are ‘Anne Heche speaking her secret language to God and looking for the spaceship in Fresno’ crazy.
SOOKIE: Oh Quiness, Nakka dune notta.

LORELAI: Il el nostra doska don.

Anne Heche (born 1969), actress, director, and screenwriter. First became known as a soap opera actress, before gaining mainstream recognition in the late 1990s in films such as Donnie Brasco (1997) and Six Days, Seven Nights (1998). She was also famous for her high-profile three-year relationship with comedian Ellen De Generes, who came out to the press shortly after she and Anne began dating.

On August 19 2000, the day after her relationship with Ellen ended, Anne drove from Los Angeles to Cantua Creek, near Fresno, parking her vehicle on a roadside. She walked for more than a mile through the desert wearing shorts and a bra before knocking on a stranger’s door and asking for a shower. As she seemed reluctant to leave, the homeowner called the sheriff’s department. When deputies arrived, Heche told them that she was God, and would take everyone up to Heaven in a spaceship (she later said she had taken ecstasy). She was admitted to a psychiatric unit in Fresno, and released after a few hours.

While promoting her 2001 memoir, Call Me Crazy, Anne told interviewers that she had been mentally ill for the first thirty-one years of her life due to horrific sexual abuse by her father (a closeted gay man who died of AIDS when Anne was thirteen), which began when she was only a baby. Her surviving family strongly reject those claims, although even without that, her childhood doesn’t sound like a picnic.

Anne said that she created a fantasy world called The Fourth Dimension and had an alter ego named Celestia who was the daughter and reincarnation of God, spoke her own language, had special powers, and was in contact with extraterrestrials. It seems likely Lorelai read Call Me Crazy, as it is the sort of camp celebrity memoir she could not resist (like Mommie Dearest and Tears and Laughter), although all the information could be gleaned from the press at the time.

Anne Heche stated that she had no further mental health issues after the episode at Cantua Creek, and she has gone on to have a successful career in film and television.

Sookie’s statement means, “Oh God, I cannot do this” in Anne Heche’s invented language. Lorelai replies, “It’s too scary for me now”, in the same language. Anne said this when she believed God wanted her to heal a friend’s injured ankle, however she says she did go on to heal her friend through laying on of hands. Anne shared this information, including the example of her language, with Barbara Walters on 20/20 in early September 2001.

Like Lorelai and Sookie, and many others at the time, Amy Sherman-Palladino mocked Anne Heche mercilessly after going public. Their tone was completely mainstream for the time.

UPDATE: Anne Heche passed away after a car accident on August 12 2022, under the influence of narcotics.