He admitted that he and his producing partner Stephanie Savage had no interest in doing a version with the original cast grown up.
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“Stephanie and I have been talking about it off for the last couple of years and obviously we’ve seen more shows get revisited and there are people on social media asking for it,” he said Friday during the TCA summer press tour. “We felt that a version with just our cast grown up, regardless of the challenges of getting those actors, didn’t feel like a group of adults controlled by ‘gossip girl’ made much sense. We felt there was something interesting that we are all ‘gossip girl’ in our own way and how that’s evolved, morphed and mutated and telling that story through a new generation of Upper East Side high school kids felt right.”
Like the original series, the new iteration of Gossip Girl, written by Joshua Safran, is based on the book by Cecily von Ziegesar. The logline: Eight years after the original website went dark, a new generation of New York private school teens are introduced to the social surveillance of Gossip Girl. The prestige series will address just how much social media — and the landscape of New York itself — has changed in the intervening years.
He added that they have reached out to the original cast members including Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Penn Badgley, Chace Crawford and Ed Westwick and they are welcome to be involved, but understands if they don’t want to be. “If they want to be involved in some way – we’ve reached out to them, we’d love them to be involved but we didn’t want to make it contingent. It’d be great to see them again,” he added.
The impetus for the new version came from Safran, creator of Quantico and an original series writer on Gossip Girl. Schwartz said Safran wanted to “subvert the paradigm of the original.”
The Looking For Alaska exec producer added that over the years there had been a possibility that the update could land at Netflix or the CW. “The original show airs on Netflix still and does pretty well for them so at one point that was possible, the CW still was possible, there were many permutations as to where it could have gone,” he said, adding that he “assumes it’s a possibility” that the original series will move from Netflix to HBO at some point.
Safran executive produces the new series with Fake Empire’s Schwartz and Savage, and Leslie Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo of Alloy Entertainment. Fake Empire’s Lis Rowinski is co-executive producer. Fake Empire and Alloy Entertainment produce in association with Warner Bros Television and CBS Television Studios.
Gossip Girl ran for six seasons from 2007-2012 on the CW across 121 episodes and aired at a time when social media was taking off.