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If you spent any part of this pandemic watching Gossip Girl on Netflix and actually miss hearing “Good morning, Upper East Siders,” then you're in luck. HBO Max’s reboot of the show is slated to premiere this summer.
A Warner Bros. spokesperson told Variety the series would be set eight years after the original’s 2009 finale. The reboot will feature a new generation of private-school teens who have to navigate the world of social media-driven gossip on the Upper East Side.
Deadline confirmed in July 2020 that HBO ordered 10 episodes for HBO Max. Here, all the details we know so far about the celebrated series’ return to TV—including the full cast and a sneak peek at them in action.
The reboot started filming in the fall of 2020 and will release in July.
Originally slated to debut in the fall of 2020, the Gossip Girl reboot will now hit screens in July of this year. On April 28, 2021, the Twitter account that belongs to “Gossip Girl” confirmed the news.
“Good afternoon, followers. I need no introduction, but these New York elite do,” the account tweeted. “Pleased to present your newest obsession—coming to @hbomax this July. Clear your calendars accordingly.”
The tweet also included a video montage of the new cast.
The delayed release date was confirmed by HBO Max chief content officer Kevin Reilly in Vulture’s streaming TV newsletter Buffering in May of 2020. “They hadn’t even started production yet; they were in pre-production and ready to roll,” Reilly told the outlet of how the pandemic affected filming.
On October 26, production began on the series, an occasion documented by new star Emily Alyn Lind. She shared a photo of herself in the makeup trailer on her Instagram Stories: “Day 1,” she captioned the selfie.
In early November 2020, cast members Eli Brown and Whitney Peak were spotted filming a possible date scene. Then several cast members were photographed on the steps of the Met, including Lind, Brown, Peak, Evan Mock, Zión Moreno, Thomas Doherty, Jordan Alexander, Savannah Lee Smith, and Tavi Gevinson.
“It’s definitely hard during COVID; we get tested twice a day, so we just stayed in our bubbles and only hung out with each other,” Lind told Dazed in a Feb. 2021 interview. “But it actually helped so much. These friendships on the show are meant to be ones where we’ve known each other forever.”
“It’s really important to create that sense of bonding between all of us, because that’s the point of the show,” Alexander also told Dazed. “The interconnectedness of this group—who we are around this or that person and what elements of the character are brought out when they’re allowed to be that version of themselves with that character.”
The revival will focus on a new set of teens.
Deadline reports that the logline for the series is, “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.”
Co-creator Josh Schwartz discussed the reboot for the first time at TCA in July 2019, explaining why he wasn’t comfortable with the show focusing on the original cast.
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.
Original showrunner and series writer Joshua Safran is involved with the series and will be working with Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire production company, Alloy Entertainment, Warner Bros. TV, and CBS Television Studios.
“It’s just a new look at this particular society in New York, the idea being that society changes constantly,” Safran told The Hollywood Reporter. “So how has this world changed, how has social media and its effect changed? All of those things allow us to look at the world 12 years on as opposed to just redoing the story.”
The Gossip Girl Twitter account is very active.
Are these clips hints about the show’s plot?
Karena Evans is directing the first two episodes.
As production on the Gossip Girl reboot ramps up, Karena Evans has been announced as the series’ first director. Evans, who starred in 2018’s Firecrackers, will helm the first two episodes of the show.
“Josh Safran has found a perfect partner in Karena to illustrate how the landscape of social media, the Upper East Side, and the world have changed since Gossip Girl premiered 13 years ago,” Sarah Aubrey, head of HBO Max’s original content, said in a statement. “Additionally, her passion for inclusive storytelling matches Josh’s and we are proud to have her on this journey with us.”
Prior to Gossip Girl, Evans directed several music videos for Drake and episodes of P-Valley and Snowfall. “I couldn’t be more excited for Karena to launch the new series,” Safran said in a statement. "Her vision, voice, and passion are incomparable. It’s an honor and a privilege to get to work with her, and I can’t wait for everyone to see what she has planned.”
The official cast has been finalized.
In March 2020, Deadline reported that Lind (Code Black, Revenge) is a lead in the upcoming series. Lind will play Audrey, a character who “has been in a long term relationship and is beginning to wonder what more could be out there.”
Lind later opened up to Entertainment Tonight about the “intriguing” characters in the reboot. “[The creators] just have a way with creating characters that you want to watch, that you’re interested in and I’m excited to see what they do with this one,” she said. When asked if Audrey's personality was anything like hers, Lind stayed mum. “I wish I could say!” she teased. “Let me just say I’m already in love with her and I’m really excited for everyone to meet her.”
On the same day Lind’s casting was announced, Deadline confirmed four new additions to the Gossip Girl ensemble: Peak (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Brown (Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists), Johnathan Fernandez (Lethal Weapon) and Jason Gotay (Peter Pan Live!). The outlet says the reboot is said to follow “a similar character dynamic to the original, with Peak, Brown and Lind as the leading trio and Fernandez and Gotay as members of the core ensemble.”
In early April 2020, Deadline reported the casting of newcomer Savannah Smith as one of the show’s leads. It’ll be her first major acting credit; as of 2020, she was studying acting at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Following Lind’s casting, Deadline announced the casting of Evan Mock, a high-profile skateboarder and model for brands including Calvin Klein, Saint Laurent, and Superdry. He’s also a photographer who’s shot Travis Scott on tour and Justin Bieber’s most recent Drew House campaign. Deadline reports this will be Mock’s first acting gig.
The series has casted from the stage, too, in the form of Broadway’s Laura Benanti, Deadline reports. The Tony Winner is known for roles on TV (Supergirl, Melania Trump on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) and in theater (My Fair Lady, Into the Woods). She has also appeared on the TV Land series Younger. Her character’s name is still not listed on IMBD, nor has HBO released a description for her.
On March 2020, news broke that another familiar name would be joining the reboot. Tavi Gevinson has credits on Scream Queens, Parenthood, The Simpsons, The Twilight Zone, Neo Yokio, and more. She has also appeared on Broadway in This is Our Youth (2015), The Crucible (2016), and The Cherry Orchard (2016). She is also known for her magazine, Rookie, and was a fashion blogger as a teen.
"I’ve been following Tavi for maybe four or five years now," cast member Jordan Alexander told Dazed. "I'm just very interested in her fashion and art. I really loved Rookie; I had every edition of (the books). It was great to be around someone with that creative energy.”
Here is Gevinson on set:
The description of her character, Kate Keller, is pretty vague, so we might want to keep an eye on what’s going to happen there. Does she have something to do with Gossip Girl? Or does she have another role in manipulating this new cast of privileged teens? Hmmm...
“We were shooting a scene in which I had to look at a phone and see nasty comments, and I immediately felt the little heart dagger,” Gevinson told Cosmopolitan in their May/June cover story. “I was like, This is literally a prop phone with mean comments about another character, but just the very act of seeing them chaotically, one after another, pop up—I was like, I carry around my phone like it’s nothing, but it’s like a ticking bomb.”
HBO has now released official character names
On its Instagram account, the Gossip Girl reboot released the names of all the main characters, which was something, that, for the most part, they had been keeping quiet. Here they are, complete with one-word character descriptions:
Julien Calloway (Jordan Alexander)
Alexander is a Canadian singer/actress who has previous credits on TV series shorts Unbury the Biscuit (2016) and Sacred Lies (2020). She was also in the film Please Kill Mr. Know It All (2012), among others.
Monet de Haan (Savannah Smith)
Luna La (Zión Moreno)
Moreno made the move to acting after getting her start as a model. The Albuquerque, New Mexico native has been in K-12 (2019) and Netflix’s Control Z (2020).
Max Wolfe (Thomas Doherty)
Doherty was in Disney’s Descendants 2 (2017), HBO’s Catherine the Great (2019), and Hulu’s High Fidelity (2020).
Audrey Hope (Emily Alyn Lind)
Kate Keller (Tavi Gevinson)
Otto “Obie” Bergmann IV (Eli Brown)
Brown is a Portland, Oregon, native known for the series Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists (2019) and the movie Run, Hide, Fight (2020), among other projects.
Akeno “Aki” Menzies (Evan Mock)
Zoya Lott (Whitney Peak)
Peak comes to this project after appearing in several episodes of part 3 of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a small role in Molly’s Game, and the CW’s iZombie.
The reboot will be more diverse.
In a November 2019 interview at Vulture Festival, Safran delved into the new direction for the reboot. He said that although he was hesitant about rebooting the series, he was convinced by a 2019 reimagining of the premise.
“There was not a lot of representation the first time around on the show,” he admitted. “I was the only gay writer I think the entire time I was there. Even when I went to private school in New York in the ’90s, the school didn’t necessarily reflect what was on Gossip Girl. So, this time around the leads are nonwhite. There’s a lot of queer content on this show. It is very much dealing with the way the world looks now, where wealth and privilege come from, and how you handle that. The thing I can’t say is there is a twist, and that all relates to the twist.”
He also gave Cosmo some insight into the intentional new casting. “There are more than enough shows with white people centered in them,” he said. “I’m married to a Mexican American man; I am a queer man. My world is not exclusively white. No one’s is.”
Peak also shared her input with Cosmo: “I want all the hers and the hes and the theys and the people of color from all over the world to be able to watch the show and think, That’s a person who looks like me. I don’t have to be the stereotypical idea of who I am.”
During a separate Twitter Q&A, Safran confirmed that the “majority of the characters [are] diverse and/or queer.”
And Lind spoke with Dazed about the importance of including queer issues in the series. “I think that what we can say is this: We’re making a series in 2020 and 2021. It’s really important for us to not just talk about these things but also express them as normal things that kids deal with. It shouldn’t be this new, exciting thing to talk about, it just exists. It’s about normalizing things that used to be different or taboo.”
She also addressed how the relationships (which were often toxic, at best, in the original series), will be differently portrayed in this reboot: “Gender roles will be talked about and dissected. A lot of the women in our show are very powerful, but I think they were in the original as well. We’ll be exploring what it means to be a woman in this generation, and in general, exploring ideas that we didn't before.”
We know who the new “Dan Humphrey” is going to be.
Per Cosmo, Peak’s Zoya Lott will serve as our eyes into this new world of Upper East Side high school students, much like Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley) in the original series. It isn’t clear who’s the new Queen B of this world, but Audrey (Emily Alyn Lind), whose mother is an athleisure designer, seems to be a contender. Audrey’s boyfriend is Aki (Mock), and her BFF is Julien (Alexander).
The original costume designer for Gossip Girl is returning.
Costume designer Eric Daman is also on board for the reboot. The visionary behind Serena’s go-to blazers and Blair’s preppy headbands is bringing his expertise to the upcoming show. “OMGG I am sooo thrilled to be a part of the new GG Generation!” Daman said in a statement to Teen Vogue. “It has been incredible to see the youth of today discovering and bingeing GG during these times!! Very excited to delight and inspire all of the GG Fans, new and OG, with some delicious, trendsetting fashions for this new era! Can’t Wait!! XoXo, E.”
Does this generation of Met Steps kids think about fashion differently than Blair and Serena did in 2009? Apparently so.
“I caught myself at times being like, ‘I’m not really going to see anybody or anything but I want to wear something that makes me feel cool,” Peak said of Gen Z’s fashion sense in the Dazed interview. “I don’t think it’s ‘dress to impress,’ it’s more ‘dress how you feel.’ You feel better if you feel confident and I feel like dressing however you want makes you feel more confident.”
The first script is reportedly “quite good.”
According to Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max, the first script from Safran was definitely quality. “We have gotten the first script and I can tell you we all breathed a big sigh of relief because it’s quite good,” Aubrey said at the TCAs last January per Entertainment Tonight. “You can imagine the bar is very high. I think that one of the benefits of having the original creators involved, they're very clear of what the essential elements of the show are and are not. And also, really excited to bring a modern lens to it 10 years later. Josh and team have done a great job so far.”
Safran apparently worked on scripts while working from home. In April 2020, he hinted at the tone show of the show, tweeting, “My husband just called a reference in a current GG script ‘too rarefied,’ which means I’m 100 percent on the right track. Blair walked so this could run!”
The show will address current world events.
Although there isn’t much intel on that first script, Lind confirmed to ET in September 2020 that the reboot will “touch on specific subjects that are really relevant to today’s society” and “how we’re going to make sure that that is a relevant factor of the show.”
It’s unclear specifically what her comments refer to or how specifically the show will address COVID-19, which severely affected NYC in 2020. Sarah Jessica Parker has confirmed that Sex and the City’s HBO Max reboot, another famously New York city-based show, will address the pandemic because of how hard the city was hit by the virus. She told Vanity Fair that it will “obviously be part of the storyline, because that’s the city [these characters] live in.”
But Gossip Hirl will take place after the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Cosmo reported in its cover story, Safran confirmed the show will take place in “The After,” aka post-pandemic New York, where everyone is vaccinated and quarantine is a practice of the past.
There could be some musical elements.
The actresses hinted to Dazed about the possibility of bring their characters’ musical talent to the show, though they couldn’t say much.
“I don’t know if we can share this but I do think that it could definitely be an important factor in the show, in creating the reality of it,” Alexander said. “I feel like it’s definitely gonna be involved, whether your character is a musician or whether you personally are.”
The new characters will reference Serena, Blair, Chuck, and Dan, but the O.G. Gossip Girl characters won't be in the show.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Safran explained that he thinks of the reboot of Gossip Girl in relation to the original series as “like the Marvel universe. It’s not a continuation or a sequel. It truly just is looking at a different angle.”
In regards to the original cast, he said, “I would love for everyone to come back if they wanted to. The universe still exists. The characters talk about Serena, Blair, Chuck, Dan.” When pressed about whether Badgley would return as Dan Humphrey, Safran responded, “I don’t know, I hope so,” adding, “Now that you’ve said it, I want it to.”
The show will venture beyond the Upper East Side, and Brooklyn will actually be portrayed as cool.
“Not everyone lives on the Upper East Side, though,” Safran told ET when explaining the new show’s vision. “Brooklyn’s not the bad place to live. Brooklyn’s probably cooler in the new version than Manhattan, ‘cause it is in some places [in real life]. Other than that, it has the DNA of the original.” As for how controversial the series will get, no matter the borough? Safran admitted to the outlet, “Luckily, we’ll be airing post-Euphoria, so anything we do will seem tame by comparison. I don't think we’ll be that controversial.”
Kristen Bell is returning.
On November 7, 2019, The Wrap reported that Kristen Bell will narrate the new series, just as she did for the original’s first six seasons. “Kristen Bell has always been and will always be the voice of Gossip Girl,” the producers said in a statement.
Bell’s timeless sign-off, "You know you love me, XOXO, Gossip Girl," appeared in all 121 episodes of the show. The actress also appeared on the CW series in a quick cameo in the series finale.
And Gossip Girl is much more than a blogger now.
Safran didn’t tell Cosmo exactly what he meant by this, but modern Gossip Girl is apparently much more than a blog. It’s now a social-media app or platform of some kind. Sounds…terrifying.
“My hope is that we make it to airing and people don’t know,” Safran told Cosmo about what, exactly Gossip Girl 2.0 is. “I would love to see that conversation happen in the context of people having seen it as opposed to talking about something they haven’t seen.”
And there’s some kind of twist coming, but we’ll just have to wait for it.
Cosmo made reference to some kind of plot point that we won’t see coming, but Safran wouldn’t tell the publication on the record.
Blake Lively isn’t involved with the reboot. Really.
In January 2020, Lively, who portrayed Serena van der Woodsen during the show's original run, confirmed that she's not “involved” in the reboot, per E! When asked about when production would begin on the project, she responded, “I don’t know. I’m not a producer. I’m not involved. You gotta call them.”
Previously, Lively had been more open to a reboot. She spoke to Variety in April 2017, saying that she’d be fairly open to doing Gossip Girl with the original cast. “It sort of all depends,” Lively said. “Would I do seven years of the show? No, because it’s hard work and I’ve got my babies, and I don’t want to be away from them that much. But I’ve just learned in life you never say never. I’m looking to do something that I haven’t done yet, not something that I did. But would I do that? Who knows—if it was good, if it made sense. We had so much fun shooting and living and working in New York City.”
Penn Badgley isn't super interested but won’t rule out the possibility completely.
In the past, Badgley didn't have much excitement about playing Dan Humphrey again. “I don’t think that could happen for maybe another 10 years because if you look at the shows that are being rebooted, they’re much older,” he told Marie Claire Australia in September 2018. “I don’t think any of us are interested in that, the creators or the cast.”
But in a December 2019 interview with Entertainment Tonight, Badgley seemed more open to the idea. “Could Dan Humphrey...? I don’t... That’s a message I gotta put at the top of my inbox, you know, to think about,” Badgley told reporter Lauren Zima. “I have not had conversations with any of the creators yet, but you know...” he teased, his voice reportedly trailing off.
He continued, “I think it’s pretty clear that, like, I’ve never been a proponent of Dan Humphrey’s. I've never been necessarily the greatest friend or fan of Dan Humphrey, which now I reconcile in this way that I’m like, you know, I would love to contribute in a meaningful way to it. And I guess it would just depend on a lot of things…It would depend on how and why he’s there.”
Despite his ambivalence, Badgley talks about the parallels between Dan Humphrey and Joe Goldberg in Netflix’s You pretty regularly these days.
Hilary Duff would return, if asked.
In November 2019, Duff told ELLE.com that if asked, she’d be down to return to Gossip Girl. “I did hear that’s coming back and I got very excited. I would love to make a cameo,” she confirmed. Fans may remember that Duff played actress Olivia Burke in a nine-episode arc of season 3. While on the series, she lived with Vanessa (Jessica Szohr) and briefly romanced Dan (Badgley).
Leighton Meester has said she wouldn’t say no.
When Meester spoke to Vanity Fair about a possible reboot in August 2017, she seemed somewhat open to the idea of reprising the role of Blair Waldorf, but approached the topic with a fair amount of hesitation. “I guess I hear that [reunion talk] in fits and starts here and there, but it’s hard to say,” she said. “If everyone was into it and if the timing was right, you know? I don’t want to say, ‘No, never…’”
Meester has a clear vision of what Blair would be doing now. “When we last left Blair Waldorf, she had a kid with [Chuck Bass], and she was running her own fashion company,” she told ELLE in February 2017. “Blair Waldorf is probably about to debut her new fashion line. She’s probably doing New York Fashion Week! She’s got a runway somewhere.”
After the news dropped that a reboot was a possibility, Meester was asked by E! News in April 2019 if she would be open to doing Gossip Girl again. “No one’s ever asked me,” she responded. “No one’s ever talked to me about it except for in interviews, and I always say the same. I never say never. So, I don’t know. No one’s sent me that information, it’s coming from you.”
Chace Crawford has said he definitely wants to make a cameo in the reboot.
In December 2018, Crawford told Us Weekly that he would “be open to talking about something” but was under the impression that a reboot wasn’t in discussion. And though he is open to the idea of playing Nate Archibald again, he thinks the cast might be too old to reprise their former roles. “They’ll probably just reboot it and cast all new young kids,” he added. “How are we going to do it? … At 35, I’m still at the high school there, wearing my uniform?”
Then in July 2019, Crawford mused a limited series could be a possibility…and he’d definitely be down to appear in it, telling Digital Spy, “I don’t know what it would look like with us being in our 30s now, but I always say, because it was such a big part of my life, I’m open to anything. It would have to be really right, and really specific, and with TV and the golden age of the TV streaming service, maybe an eight-episode season…”
Crawford pointed out it wouldn't be easy to assemble all the original stars. “It would be very tough to get everybody on board I think because of their schedules, Penn, Leighton, Ed… They’re all doing really good TV shows… The reboot might come in the form of new characters. I would absolutely cameo. I’d have to!”
We know now that we are getting 10 one-hour episodes. Does that meet Crawford’s standards?
Ed Westwick is not really a fan of the idea.
When Westwick sat down for an interview with Radio Times in May 2017, he said that he feels like the idea of a Gossip Girl reboot is impossible, and that his character, Chuck Bass, is “played out.” “Nah, that’s not gonna happen,” he told the interviewer. “I know there’s a bunch of them coming back—I hear they’re doing Will and Grace, they’ve done Gilmore Girls… But it’s such a strange thing to think about. It feels like we only just finished! And I haven't done enough in between yet to feel like I could comfortably revisit it. And I did so much with that character—it’s played out, man. It’s done.” In spite of his harsh words, Westwick said he would take up the opportunity to play Chuck again—but only if he was offered millions of dollars.
Taylor Momsen has since quit acting, so it’s unlikely she’d return.
Momsen experienced growing pains when filming Gossip Girl. While on set, she focused her attention on music and eventually began touring with her rock band, The Pretty Reckless. “I’m very lucky that the producers were nice enough to write me out, allow me to tour, and pursue my passion, because they very easily could have told me to go f--k myself and keep me on the show,” she told The Daily Beast in 2014. And as far as returning to play Jenny Humphrey? “I’m not looking to go back to it,” she told Riverfront Times in 2014. “Gossip Girl was a great experience, and it helped in one way and hurt in another, but it feels like forever ago.”
At least we know we don’t have too much longer to wait. Come July, we’ll have a whole new generation of Upper East Side teens whose lives have more glamour, more drama, and more dinners at Manhattan hotspots than any actual Upper East Side 16-year-old could ever dream up.
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