How 'Gossip Girl' Reboot Will Address the Original Characters
By Philiana Ng
Warner Bros. TV
Gossip Girl is getting a remake centered on the next generation of Upper East Siders, but there were conversations about revisiting the original characters -- a door that is being left open, at least for the moment.
Earlier this month, WarnerMedia's upcoming streaming service HBO Max gave a straight-to-series order for a new Gossip Girl series with original executive producers Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage and Josh Safran, who served as showrunner for the final seasons, all returning.
Schwartz, who was touting Hulu's Looking for Alaska at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Friday in Beverly Hills, California, explained why the timing was right for 2019 to be the year Gossip Girl 2.0 to come to fruition. Especially after years of discussions about revivals with the original cast, which made household names of Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley, Ed Westwick and Chace Crawford.
"We've reached out to all of them to let them know it was happening and we'd love for them to be involved if they want to be involved, but certainly didn't want to make it contingent upon [them being involved]. They played these characters for six years, and if they felt like they were good with that, we want to respect that, but obviously ... it would be great to see them again," Schwartz told a group of reporters.
Schwartz addressed why it made sense now for a new Gossip Girl iteration to freshen up the beloved property.
"Stephanie and I had been talking about it off and on over the past couple of years, and obviously you're seeing more shows get revisited. Certainly, on social media, there were people asking for it. We felt that a version with our cast grown up, regardless of what the challenges would be of assembling those actors again, it didn't really feel like a group of adults that would be patrolled by Gossip Girl would make a lot of sense," he said.
"So we thought there was something really interesting about the idea that we are all Gossip Girl now, in our own way, that we are all purveyors of our own social media surveillance state and how that has evolved and how that has mutated and morphed and telling that through a new generation of Upper East Side high school kids," Schwartz added.
When asked if the new crop of Gossip Girl characterswould use the blueprints of original characters from the Cecily von Zeigesar novels and the original series a la Serena van der Woodsen, Blair Waldorf, Dan Humphrey, Chuck Bass and Nate Archibald, Schwartz indicated that that was not the case. So, don't expect a "Serena" or a "Blair" in the new HBO Max series, at least on paper.
"Part of why now is we sat down with Josh Safran, who was such a critical part of the show our first go-around and such a good voice of the show and ended up becoming executive producer of the show with us, was he had a really great take and a really great idea, and that made it feel like this was the moment," Schwartz explained. "We had heard other takes and we had gone down some roads and explored some stuff. But when we heard Safran's take, it was so fun, and knowing he would be the one writing it, he would be able to deliver a great job. He definitely wanted to subvert the original paradigm."
While the specifics of the plot are being kept close to the vest, a theory was brought up about if the update will feature a character or characters that are children of the original crew. Schwartz immediately shot that down, quipping, "No, we're not that old!"
The new Gossip Girl will take place eight years after the original Gossip Girl website went dark and a new generation of New York private school teens are introduced to the social surveillance of Gossip Girl. The series will address just how much social media -- and the landscape of New York itself -- has changed in the intervening years.
In February, when ET caught up with Crawford, who played Nate on the original series, he wasn't sure if Gossip Girl should ever be rebooted.
"I don't think anyone's been seriously talking about that. I think they'd have to come up with a real plan, and I know Josh and Stephanie would have to be a part of it," he said at the time. "It is funny to me, it's almost become a classic now. It probably goes to show you that we shouldn't be redoing it. I can't be in high school anymore. That's the thing. I don't even know what they would do. For me personally, I would love to see everybody again and I loved everybody and I would love to work with everybody, but I don't know if it's necessarily a reality."
"I don't know what the way in would be to the story, to get everyone back together," he added. "I'm always up for anything. That was such a good part of my life and experience, and hell, if they throw in shooting in New York City again, I'm there."
Crawford even jokingly predicted that, in a potential reboot, the whole original cast would be replaced by younger actors, something that now aligns with what HBO Max has planned for its Gossip Girl iteration.
"The second we probably [decide], 'Yeah, let's do it'... [it'll be like], 'Oh, we recast everybody. They're all young kids. Same show, different people,'" Crawford quipped of the original cast.