Gilmore Girls scene-stealer Melissa McCarthy shed nearly half her body weight over the summer, but viewers won't know what's missing when the show returns this fall; her alter ego, Sookie, will be six months preggers at the start of the new season. "I'll be wearing all these pads," laments the actress. "That's the irony."

But even after Sookie delivers, the show won't be making a big deal of the character's newly-svelte self. "We never made an issue of her weight on the show before," notes exec producer Amy Sherman-Palladino, "so I doubt we will start now."

McCarthy — who says the "final straw" came earlier this year when she stumbled upon a pair of her old size four jeans — slimmed down with the help of UCLA's Risk Factor Obesity (RFO) program. "It's been around for like 20 years, so it's pretty well known," she explains of the protein shake-intensive diet. "It is extreme, but I'm kind of enjoying the results."

Not to mention the newfound anonymity. "I've been getting a lot of, 'You look like the girl on Gilmore Girls, but younger and thinner,'" she laughs. "And I'm like, 'Good!' As long as it is not 'older and a little heavier.'"

Although McCarthy won't reveal how much she lost — "I don't know if I'll ever say" — she hints that it's more than 50 pounds. And she's not finished yet. "If you see me wearing really outdated jeans with a huge smile on my face," she says, "then I'm probably done."