Random House tweeted Tuesday that it will publish Graham’s fiction debut, You’ll Never Make It. The semi-autobiographical novel is about an actress in New York City in the mid-’90s who waits tables while waiting for her big break.
No, Parenthood fans, it isn’t a play. It is, however, very smart and funny, according to reports. Of course, coming from Lauren Graham, what else would it be?
Graham hasn’t shared the plot yet, but in this month’s Ladies Home Journal, she shared a few anecdotes from her first years in Hollywood, where she slept on her aunt’s couch in the suburbs.
“Often I would have an audition at one o’clock and another at five,” she recalled. “There wasn’t enough time to drive home in between, so I’d sit in the food court at the Beverly Center mall doing crossword puzzles. I still can’t smell Auntie Anne’s pretzels without having a flashback.”
These days, crossword time is in between takes on the set of Parenthood, in which she stars as single mother Sarah Braverman. But the themes of the show are similar to Graham’s real-life childhood. Her dad, Laurence, was a congressional staffer in Washington, D.C., while her mother, Donna, was an artist, unsettled because she couldn’t find her true calling.
When Lauren was five, her mom left to pursue a music career and Laurence raised his daughter alone. He wasn’t the perfect parent, but he made sure Lauren had everything she needed — including plenty of time with grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins so she would have a sense of family. And he never expressed resentment about Donna leaving; he told Lauren he admired her mom for following her dream. When Lauren was 11, he took her to London to visit Donna and the two reconnected. Although Donna hadn’t succeeded at music and was a fashion buyer, Lauren found that she shared her mom’s love of performing.
As she pursued acting via a B.A. at Barnard College and an M.A. at Southern Methodist University, she was determined to find a niche other than “pretty girl.”
“I didn’t have those looks. I wasn’t that kind of girl. I knew I had to be smart. I always thought, I’m not prettier than other people, but maybe I can be funnier, or do a more interesting character.” (Apparently, she didn’t own a mirror.)
Graham’s big break was, of course, Lorelai Gilmore. She was an ideal character for Graham because she was smart and independent, but also insecure and goofy. Gilmore Girls ran for seven years — and made Lauren Graham famous.
When GG ended, she didn’t want to go back to television right away, but her movie and stage career didn’t take off as she’d hoped. (I think we’d all like to pretend Because I Said So never happened.) Then Parenthood came along — a more dramatic and emotional show than Gilmore Girls, but another chance to draw on memories of her mom’s struggles.
The cast is a true ensemble and gets along well. Graham spends time off set with Mae Whitman, who plays her daughter. “She’s got such a good head on her shoulders and I can talk to her about anything, from career things to personal issues. It really is like mother and daughter.”
She spends a different kind of time with her onscreen brother, Peter Krause. The two have been friends for 15 years and only recently acknowledged that they are a couple. Graham says they are homebodies and prefer to live outside the public eye, in part to maintain believability at siblings. Maybe we’ll get a romance chapter in the novel to help us fill in the blanks.
The good news for Graham fans is that the ratings for Tuesday night’s Parenthood finale were up and the outlook for renewal is positive. If you aren’t watching the show, catch up. It’s worth your time. Meanwhile, catch up with all things Lauren Graham at the Ladies Home Journal website.
Are you looking forward to a Lauren Graham novel? Do you expect more of a Lorelai Gilmore or Sarah Braverman main character? And if you’re a Parenthood fan, tell us why we should be fans, too.