Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In this week’s episode, Variety’s managing editor of TV Cynthia Littleton talks with Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino, executive producers of the new Amazon series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” The dramedy premiered Nov. 29 and has grabbed Golden Globe Award nominations for best comedy series and for star Rachel Brosnahan.
The husband-and-wife pair behind such beloved shows as “Gilmore Girls” and “Bunheads” say they are loving the challenge of filming “Mrs. Maisel” on location all over New York City. Brosnahan plays Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a 1950s housewife who inadvertently discovers her talent for stand-up comedy after her seemingly perfect life falls apart when her husband walks out on her.
“It’s the greatest thing on the face of the earth,” Sherman-Palladino says of working in New York. “In L.A., you work mostly on backlots. We spent six years of ‘Gilmore Girls’ in Burbank pretending it was Connecticut. Now, because [New York] is not a backlot town, we have a stage at Steiner [Studios] but most of the time we’re shutting down streets all over the city. It’s very hard. It’s a lot of rock ‘n’ roll but it’s so great.”
Sherman-Palladino has drawn on some of her formative experiences to craft the world of “Mrs. Maisel.” The world of Greenwich Village comedy clubs that Midge explores was something that loomed large in her childhood, as the daughter of stand-up comedian Don Sherman. She grew up in Southern California, but stories of famed New York clubs, excursions to the Catskills, and comedians filled her family home.
“I grew up with stand-up comedians hanging out in my house,” Sherman-Palladino says. “Stand-up comedians either work a lot or they have a lot of time on their hands to hang around with each other eating deli and making each other laugh. It was like ‘Broadway Danny Rose’ a lot of the time at my house.”
Working on a period drama is a first for the pair, and it does take some getting used to as storytellers.
“It really changes things when you basically had to be home to get a phone call. Characters cannot just make calls from wherever they are,” Palladino says. Sherman-Palladino adds, “I enjoy that I have not typed the word Snapchat for months and months and months.”
After considering numerous actresses for the lead, Brosnahan landed the lead role of Midge pretty much the moment she walked in for the audition. “She had that smile,” Sherman-Palladino says. The role of Midge’s manager, Susie, was penned specifically for Alex Borstein. Fun fact — Borstein was the original choice for the role of Suki in “Gilmore Girls” — the part that ultimately went to Melissa McCarthy — but the actress could not get out of her contract to appear on Fox’s “Mad TV.”
“We’ve always wanted to work with her,” Palladino says. He worked with Borstein during his time on “Family Guy” and knew she had great acting chops.
“Mrs. Maisel” marks the first time the duo has worked for a streaming service where all episodes of a season drop at the same time. Truth be told, the couple are not fans of the binge-watching experience.
“We encourage people to not binge it. I think you miss the subtleties because the pace is so fast, things could whiz by you that you might want to pay attention to,” Sherman-Palladino says. “On the other hand — do whatever you want.”
You can listen to this week’s podcast here: