"Who's Kelly Bishop?" he asked.
I'd like to think any "Gilmore Girls" fan could have filled him in, Bishop having played patrician grandmother Emily Gilmore to near-perfection for seven seasons, six on the WB.
But the question of who Bishop is probably comes closer to an answer Monday, as "Gilmore Girls" creator Amy Sherman-Palladino's new series "Bunheads" premieres on ABC Family.
Bishop, a former ballet dancer who won a Tony as one of the original members of "A Chorus Line," plays a small-town dance teacher whose life is upended when her son (Alan Ruck) marries a Vegas showgirl (Sutton Foster) .
Foster, who looks just a little like "Gilmore" star Lauren Graham, is the actress in first position, Bishop being technically a guest star in a pilot whose best moments include a mother-in-law/daughter-in-law pas de deux.
(Foster, who has a couple of Tonys of her own, until recently starred in the Broadway revival of "Anything Goes," in which Bishop also appeared.)
Maybe you can't go home again, but Sherman-Palladino is giving it her best shot, setting "Bunheads" in a town that's as picturesque (and potentially full of oddballs) as "Gilmore's" Stars Hollow. Perched on the California coast, it's called Paradise.
I had my issues with some of the magical thinking on "Gilmore Girls," where even supposedly cash-strapped characters lived like 1 percenters, but I've always been a fan of Sherman-Palladino's dialogue, which rivals Aaron Sorkin's ("The West Wing") for words per minute.
"Bunheads," too, can make it seem as if Paradise, too, is a place where Money Is No Object.
But Foster's not just fast on her feet — she speaks fluent Sherman-Palladino. And Bishop's more fun than ever. I just hope that's going to be enough.
Because at the end of a first hour that's mostly setup — and I do mean at the very end — Sherman-Palladino veers off, abandoning a promising subplot.
So I don't know if the show I thought I was watching is actually the show she intends to make.
But I'm willing to stick around to find out. n
Contact Ellen Gray at 215-854-5950 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @elgray. Read her blog at EllenGray.tv.