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Musicians get in character for ‘Gilmore’ episode

Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, others to perform on season finale
/ Source: Billboard

More and more scripted TV shows are turning to music artists to help boost ratings. The performances instantly up a show’s cool factor, and the artist gains exposure to millions of eyes and ears.

Many TV offerings have worked musical performances into their story lines, but the season finale of the WB’s “Gilmore Girls” -- a drama that centers on a single mother and her teenage daughter -- may set a record for the number of acts performing on a single show.

The May 9 episode will feature Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, Sam Phillips (who scores the show), Joe Pernice, Sparks, Yo La Tango and the Michael Miller Crusade.

Moore described walking onto the set of “Gilmore Girls” for the first time as a moment when “the reality-versus-fantasy bridge sort of collapsed.”

And now even the legions of crime dramas are having artists walk that bridge. This spring, Ludacris acted on “Law & Order: SVU,” Obie Trice performed on “CSI,” while Kid Rock played himself and performed on “CSI: NY.”

Ludacris says he was attracted to the “Law & Order” role because it allowed him to do the unexpected. “That was my motivating factor. Also, I want to be as versatile as possible.”

Which could help explain why Mick Jagger has signed on to participate in a comedy pilot for ABC.

Gathering of troubadoursFor the “Gilmore Girls” season finale (and the swan song for the show’s creators, Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino), the plot revolves around the town troubadour, a recurring role played by Grant Lee Phillips, going on tour with Neil Young after Young sees him performing in the show’s setting of Star’s Hollow.

As word spreads, other troubadours make their way to the Connecticut burg hoping to be discovered by Young. None of the performers are identified as themselves.

Sherman-Palladino says “Gilmore Girls” licenses a great deal of recorded music to use in its show, but artists rarely make appearances. “We don’t do a lot of stunt casting on our show because it doesn’t work a lot of the time and because we have 2 cents and a gum wrapper to hand out,” she says.

The artists on the “Gilmore Girls” finale had music previously used in the show or had been mentioned by characters.

Indeed, Moore and Gordon were watching the show with their then-11-year-old daughter, Coco, when, Moore says, “one of the characters name-checked me and Kim and we almost fell off the couch.”

The two, with Coco, play “What a Waste,” a song from Sonic Youth’s upcoming album “Rather Ripped” (due June 13 from Geffen Records).

Despite being an icon for alternative music, Moore says he does not feel the appearance connotes a sellout: “The show has such a positive vibration about it that we can only benefit from basking in its glow.”