My fellow Gilmore Girls fans, the news we've all been dreading has now been made absolutely, 100 percent, painfully official: Series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino has opted not to renew her contract and will be leaving at the end of the season - and she's taking husband Dan with her.

"Despite our best efforts to return and ensure the future of Gilmore Girls for years to come, we were unable to reach an agreement with the studio and are therefore leaving when our contracts expire at the end of this season," said Amy and Dan in a statement. "Our heartfelt thanks go out to our amazing cast, hard-working crew and loyal fans. We know that the story lines from this season will continue into the next, and that the integrity of the show will remain long after we leave Stars Hollow."

( Crickets)

Yeah, I'm speechless, too. I've had more than a week to mentally prepare for this outcome - heck, I even wrote a story and watched helplessly as it was accidentally pushed live for a brief period last Wednesday - but I still can't believe they're actually leaving. The thought of Gilmore Girls heading into what is likely to be its final season (and its first on a brand-new network) without its mama or her right-hand man is unfathomable. But it is happening. And it's a total bummer.

I won't know for sure why they're bolting until I actually ask them (hopefully in the next few days), but as I reported on Friday, the primary sticking point was apparently the length of Gilmore Girls' renewal. AS-P wanted a two-year pickup, a demand that Warner Bros. refused to meet since Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel are only on board for one more year. Instead, the studio was ready to pay them just shy of $5 million for a one-year deal, an offer that was apparently good enough to refuse.

According to a statement released by Warner Bros., "While we are disappointed that Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino have decided not to stay with the show next season, we are very confident that Dave Rosenthal, an experienced writer/producer with the show, will make the transition seamless moving into the seventh year of Gilmore Girls. We want to thank Amy for creating and nurturing this wonderful series for the past six years and giving us one of the most memorable mother/daughter relationships in television history."

( Crickets)

For now, I leave you with this quote from Graham, given to me around this time last year when it looked like the Palladinos might not return this season. I think she sums the whole thing up pretty well:

"I think it would be terrible [if Amy and Dan left]. We've had our ups and downs, but it's not a show that has ever had anyone else with the vision that she and Dan, who really are a force together, have. You can feel when someone else is trying to write Gilmore Girls-ish dialogue, you can just feel that it's... I know some people think that we talk too much, or the tone is not for everybody. Sometimes I just want to take a breath or have a reaction shot. I get it. But this is the person who is telling the story. So someone would be stepping in trying to replicate that, and I just think it's a bad idea."

( Crickets)

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Edited by Michael Ausiello at 04/20/2006 2:36 PM