November 27, 2021

HBO’s ‘Gossip Girl’ Reboot Details

14 min read

If you, like me, spent the first part of quarantine watching Gossip Girl on Netflix and actually miss hearing “Good morning, Upper East Siders,” then you’re in luck. HBO’s reboot of the show has begun filming in New York City, as confirmed by a behind-the-scenes photo from the set. Variety previously reported that production would begin in the fall.

A Warner Bros. spokesperson told the outlet that shooting would start in October and be set eight years after the original series’ 2009 finale. The reboot will feature a new generation of Upper East Side private-school teens who have to navigate a whole new world of social media-driven gossip.

Deadline confirmed in July that HBO ordered 10 episodes for HBO Max. Here, all the details we know so far about the celebrated series’ return to TV—including its new release date.

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The reboot just started filming and its release has been pushed to 2021.

Originally slated to debut in fall 2020, the Gossip Girl reboot will not hit screens until 2021 due to COVID-19’s impact on film and TV production. This was confirmed by HBO Max chief content officer Kevin Reilly in Vulture‘s streaming TV newsletter Buffering in May.

“They hadn’t even started production yet; they were in pre-production and ready to roll,” Reilly told the outlet.

On October 26, cameras started rolling on the series, an occasion documented by new star Emily Alyn Lind. She plays Audrey and shared a photo of herself in the makeup trailer to her Instagram Stories: “Day 1,” she captioned the selfie.

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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.

Much of the official cast has been announced.

On March 2, Deadline reported that Lind (Code Black, Revenge) is a lead in the upcoming series. Per the outlet, 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.”

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Lind later opened up to Entertainment Tonight about the “intriguing” characters in the reboot. “They [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: Whitney Peak (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Eli Brown (Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists), Johnathan Fernandez (Lethal Weapon) and Jason Gotay (Peter Pan Live!). Unlike Lind’s casting, no character details about the four actors have been provided. However, 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.”

Hair, Face, Hairstyle, Eyebrow, Nose, Black hair, Chin, Beauty, Forehead, Lip,

From left: Jason Gotay, Whitney Peak, Eli Brown, and Johnathan Fernandez.


Deadline reported on March 11 that Tavi Gevinson (Enough Said, Broadway’s This Is Our Youth), will play a lead role alongside Thomas Doherty (High Fidelity), Adam Chanler-Berat (Broadway’s Next to Normal), and Zion Moreno (Claws). No further character details have been provided.

Tavi Gevinson.

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Thomas Doherty.

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Netflix's "Soundtrack" New York Screening

Adam Chanler-Berat.

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Zion Moreno.

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In early April, Deadline reported the casting of newcomer Savannah Smith as one of the show’s leads. It’ll be her first major acting credit, as she’s currently studying acting at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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In August, the outlet also confirmed that Canadian singer and actress Jordan Alexander will join the project as one of the female students at the school. Further details about her character are not yet available.

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The latest addition to the cast is Evan Mock, a high-profile skateboarder and model for brands including Calvin Klein, Saint Laurent, and Superdry. He’s also a photographer, who has shot Travis Scott on tour and Justin Bieber’s most recent Drew House campaign. Deadline reports that this will be Mock’s first acting gig and details about his character are being kept under wraps.

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The original costume designer for Gossip Girl is returning.

Costume designer Eric Daman has also joined 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.”

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The first script is reportedly “quite good.”

According to Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max, the first script from Safran has been turned in. “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 in 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 has apparently been continuing to write scripts while working from home. On April 28, 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% on the right track. Blair walked so this could run!”

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The show will address current world events.

While there isn’t much intel on that first script, Lind confirmed to ET 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 whether her comments refer to the pandemic, global reckoning with race, the upcoming presidential election, or any number of other topics concerning 2020.

The new characters will reference Serena, Blair, Chuck, and Dan.

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.

“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.”

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.”

Safran also dished on the reboot’s timeline. It will reportedly take place in the same universe as the OG CW show, with characters attending Constance Billard School for Girls. “It is 12 years, I guess 13 years after the original. So we are in real time from the original where we are in the show,” the writer-producer confirmed.

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During a separate Twitter Q&A, Safran confirmed that the “majority of the characters [are] diverse and/or queer.”

Kristen Bell is returning.

On November 7, The Wrap reported that Kristen Bell will narrate the new series, just as she did for the show’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.

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Blake Lively isn’t involved with the reboot right now.

In January, 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.”

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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 in September. “I don’t think any of us are interested in that, the creators or the cast.”

Blake Lively, Chace Crawford, Ed Westwick, Leighton Meester and Penn Badgley on Location for

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But in a December 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.

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Hilary Duff would return, if asked.

In November, Duff told 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).

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Leighton Meester is open to doing a revival.

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.”

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Chace Crawford 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, Crawford mused a limited series could be a possibility…and he’d definitely be down to appear in it, telling Digital Spy that “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!”

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.

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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.”

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