Everyone’s favorite show about Manhattan’s elite teens is officially making a comeback—although this time around, the cast will be more diverse. OG Gossip Girl writer and producer Joshua Safran confirmed to Vulture that the reboot will include nonwhite leads and “more queer content.” News of the series’ direction comes after recent confirmation that Kristen Bell will return as its narrator. Now, the first script of the revival has officially arrived.
Deadline confirmed in July that HBO ordered a 10-episode reboot of the series for its upcoming HBO Max streaming platform. Here, all the details we know so far about the celebrated series’ return to TV.
The revival’s first script is reportedly “quite good.”
According to Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max, the first script from showrunner/excecutive producer Joshua 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 TCAs, 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.”
She also offered an update on casting conversations for the revival, saying production was “very early” in the process: “We’ve kind of drawn circles around a few people but it’s early days on that.”
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 could 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 recent interview at Vulture Festival, Gossip Girl writer and executive producer Joshua Safran delved into the new direction for the reboot. He said that although he was hesitant about rebooting the series, Safran 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.”
It will take place in the same universe as the OG show.
In addition to a more representative cast and mysterious twist, Safran 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.
Kristen Bell is returning.
Yes, at least one member of the original Upper East Side crew is set to return for the reboot. 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.
Blake Lively isn’t involved with the reboot at this point.
Lively, who portrayed Serena van der Woodsen during the show’s original run, spoke about whether she is set to appear in January 2020. At the premiere of her movie The Rhythm Section, Lively confirmed that she’s not “involved” in the reboot, per E!. When asked about when the project would be happening she responded, “I don’t know. I’m not a producer. I’m not involved. You gotta call them.” According to the outlet, the star is not taking part in the series in any way, shape or form at this point.
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 seem to express much excitement in 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.”
But in a new interview with Entertainment Tonight, when posed with a scenario where he returns as Dan, 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,” he explained, “and I don’t know… like, is it even… yeah, I don’t know.”
Badgley also didn’t rule out a return when speaking to Variety in 2018. “I suppose you should never say never,” he admitted. “I suppose there are conditions where I would. Do I think those conditions will ever exist? No. But they might.”
Despite his ambivalence, he talks about the parallels between Dan Humphrey and his new character, Joe Goldberg in Netflix’s You, pretty regularly these days.
Hilary Duff would return, if asked.
In November, 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).
The revival will be focused 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.”
Schwartz discussed the reboot for the first time at TCA in July, 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 Savage’s Fake Empire production company, Alloy Entertainment, Warner Bros. TV, and CBS Television Studios.
The executive producers are still working out the details.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter pegged to their Looking for Alaska adaptation with Hulu, executive producer Josh Schwartz said the “freedom” of working with a streaming service appealed to their plans for the reboot, but Stephanie Savage, also exec producer, admits they don’t quite know what that means yet: “If it’s more explicit, that’s something that we’ve talked about and haven’t really come up with a solid take on. Like, can they swear? Maybe there will be some nudity. We haven’t really figured it out.” Perhaps they can take a few tips from Euphoria…
Leighton Meester has said she’s 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…’”
Despite the hesitation, 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 definitely wants to make a cameo in the reboot.
In December, Crawford told Us Weekly that he would “be open to talking about something.” Crawford, at the time, 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 that 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.
On whether they’d reboot Gossip Girl with the original cast, Crawford told 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 said it wouldn’t be easy to assemble all the original stars either. “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. It would be hard I think [to get them all together]. 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.
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.”