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‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Producers on Their ‘Gilmore Girls’ Reunion and Breaking the Amazon Bank to Shoot During COVID

Awards Circuit Podcast: Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino on the return of "Maisel." Also: The roundtable dissects Oscar noms.

Daniel Palladino and Amy Sherman-Palladino, Creators
Sipa USA via AP

If you’ve forgotten where “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” left off at the end of Season 3, you can be forgiven: So have executive producers Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino.

“It’s been so long, we don’t remember what the season was about. I think they’re still Jewish,” Sherman-Palladino quips. “It’s been a long time, so long.”

Two years, as a matter of fact. But Season 4 of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” finally returns to Amazon Prime Video on Feb. 18, and Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast spoke to Sherman-Palladino and Palladino about what to expect. Among the topics: Adjusting to shooting “Maisel” during the pandemic, which wasn’t easy and wasn’t cheap. They also discuss Amazon’s decision to spread the show’s release over four weeks, and of course, the future of the series. Listen below:

The Palladinos were about to go into pre-production on Season 4 of “Maisel” in 2020 when the pandemic began. “So we were fortunate enough that we had not written a lot of stuff that we had to throw out,” Palladino says. But any plans to travel out of New York had to be scuttled. Before COVID, the producers considered taking the show to London or Los Angeles — but instead, to be safe they hunkered down and stayed in New York for the shoot.

“The one thing we thought was foolish was let’s not get on a plane and travel to different city different country,” Palladino says. “So we shot all over our beloved New York City where we live. It was a fantastic experience, we were able to go on location in places that really needed us. There were art venues that were just so excited to be getting some income. We were excited to be able to support them during the time when they had to shut their doors to audience for a year and a half.”

But shooting during COVID wasn’t cheap, especially as the producers were determined to maintain the show’s elaborate production design and visuals. “One of the things that happens when you don’t travel is you have to build more sets,” Sherman-Palladino says. “And we already were a show with a lot of big standing sets. Since we especially weren’t quite sure how flexible the city was going to be, we had to build quite a few monumental sets this year.. I think people are going to be very surprised and impressed and kind of blown away with what what he did this year. It’s pretty spectacular. Amazon, I think that all they did was get up in the morning and cry for an hour, and then go about their business and cry at lunch and then cry at the end of the night. But they didn’t stop us.

“Everything was harder,” she adds. “And then you put into the whole mix the idea of being socially distanced, so the crew can’t just be on top of each other while they’re working. Your choices were to not shoot until the zombie apocalypse was over, or, you had to head head into it, eyes wide open. We did not want people to watch the show and then say, ‘well, you know, it was COVID, give them a pass.’ People had to watch the show and still feel like it was the show. And if that was not possible to pull off, then then we should wait.”

To pull it off, it took testing hundreds of crew members and actors nearly every day. But it worked: The show never had to shut down due to COVID.

Meanwhile, in another shift this year, Amazon will release “Mrs. Maisel” on a weekly basis for the first time, with two episodes every Friday over four weeks. Sherman-Palladino says she welcomed the idea, vs. the usual streaming service binge-everything-at-once model.

“Our shows are dense, a lot happens,” she says. “It’s not a show I would ever recommend, like, sit down and watch all the shows in one sitting. I just don’t think you’re also going to have the best experience, I think that you’re going to miss stuff.”

As for what’s happening on the show itself, when we last left “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” at the end of Season 3, Midge (Rachel Brosnahan) goes too far during her set at the Apollo Theater. That leads headliner Shy Baldwin to kick her off his international tour, right as they’re about to fly out of New York. Now, she’s taking stock of her career, and as Season 4 begins, she’s telling her manager, Susie (Alex Borstein), that she wants more.

“It was time for her to learn about the true driving force in the creative process, which is anger and revenge,” Sherman-Palladino says. “After thinking that she was doing really great, and on tour with Shy Baldwin and that they were really close friends, and they’re pals. And then she screwed up at the Apollo and got nervous and her mouth said things that her brain should have censored first, but they didn’t. And it got her to trouble. And she feels a little betrayed now.”

Season 4 includes a “Gilmore Girls” reunion between the Palladinos and Kelly Bishop and Milo Ventimiglia, who guest star this season, as do John Waters and Jason Alexander.

“There is a Milo effect when you have Milo on the set,” Sherman-Palladino says. “Everything just seems a little more livelier and more colorful and everyone seems a little happier and birds will help you get dressed in the morning and he’s just a lovely, darling guy, and we just enjoy having him around. And Kelly is my girl.”

Variety’s Awards Circuit podcast is hosted by Clayton Davis, Michael Schneider, Jazz Tangcay and Jenelle Riley and is your one-stop listen for lively conversations about the best in movies. Michael Schneider is the producer and Drew Griffith edits. Each week, “Awards Circuit” features interviews with top talent and creatives; discussions and debates about awards races and industry headlines; and much, much more. Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or anywhere you download podcasts. New episodes post every week.