Gossip Girl almost cut Kristen Bell's voice-over in the original series due to test audiences
Spotted: Test audiences' wariness of Kristen Bell's narration in the original Gossip Girl series.
According to the premiere episode of the Gossip Girl-centered podcast XOXO With Jessica Szohr, early feedback on the pilot of the 2000s CW series apparently made creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage consider scrapping Bell's signature voice-over work as the elusive title character.
Schwartz and Savage told Szohr — who hosts XOXO and played Vanessa Abrams on Gossip Girl — that among test audiences, interest would "drop" whenever Bell's narration kicked in.
"People were into [the show] and like, 'Who's this voice that's coming in and distracting me?'" Schwartz recalled. "Do you lose the voice-over? We can't. That's part of the show, and we just have to ride with it."
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images Kristen Bell
Bell narrated the original series for its entire six-season run between 2007 and 2012. She returned to Manhattan's Upper East Side once again for the HBO Max reboot last year, providing antagonizing narration for a new generation of private-school teens.
Savage revealed that Bell was the only voice actress to read for the role, and said her concurrent stint on another CW series, Veronica Mars, initially caused some concern.
"We had some reluctance of, 'Did we feel comfortable having two shows on the same network with the same voice-over?'" Savage said. But, she added, "When [Bell] recorded it, she created an entirely different character with just her voice than how she read Veronica Mars."
Veronica Mars' eventual cancellation, however, proved to be fortuitous for the Gossip Girl team. Another salacious tidbit from Savage? Christina Ricci and Selma Blair were also in the mix to voice Gossip Girl.
Listen to the first episode of XOXO With Jessica Szohr below.