10:00am PT by Rick Porter
'Gossip Girl' Update Lands Straight-to-Series Order at HBO Max
Hey Upper East Siders, get ready for some big news: Gossip Girl is returning to TV.
WarnerMedia's streaming service HBO Max has given a 10-episode, straight-to-series order for an update of the teen drama. The original show ran on The CW from 2007-12 and helped launch the careers of stars Blake Lively, Penn Badgley, Leighton Meester, Chace Crawford and Ed Westwick.
Joshua Safran, who was showrunner of the original in its later seasons, will write and executive produce the new version. Series creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage will also serve as exec producers.
"It's something we've been talking about — Josh, Stephanie and I — for a little bit, just in terms of, 'Is this something we want to explore?' We're all so in love with the original and had such an incredible time working on it, and it's such a big part of our lives," Safran told The Hollywood Reporter. "Then the stars aligned and we had availability to jump, and Warners, obviously, it's something they're very passionate about. It seemed like the best time and also the best way to do it."
Safran declined to comment to THR on plot details or whether characters from the original could make an appearance. He described the show as an "extension" of the original; the logline for the new series reads, "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."
"It's just a new look at this particular society in New York, the idea being that society changes constantly," Safran said. "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. None of us are interested in just redoing a story."
HBO Max is set to launch in spring 2020 (with a beta launch possible late this year) and will feature more than 10,000 hours of content at the beginning. That includes Warner Bros. TV-produced Friends — for which WarnerMedia paid $425 million over five years, sources say, to win back rights from Netflix — Game of Thrones, Pretty Little Liars, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and library content from Warner Bros., New Line, HBO, TNT, TBS, TruTV, TCM, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim.
New CW series from WBTV, including Batwoman and Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene, will also have their streaming home on HBO Max (though current network shows like The Flash and Supergirl will remain on Netflix until after their runs conclude).
The new Gossip Girl will join a roster of HBO Max originals that includes Dune: The Sisterhood; the crime drama Tokyo Vice, starring Ansel Elgort; Kaley Cuoco's Big Bang Theory follow-up The Flight Attendant, from producer Greg Berlanti; the Anna Kendrick comedy Love Life; and a Gremlins animated prequel series. More announcements are expected as the streamer continues to aggressively bulk up on high-profile new series in an effort to draw subscribers.
Berlanti is also developing a quartet of YA-focused feature films for HBO Max, and Reese Witherspoon will produce at least two features via her Hello Sunshine banner.
Safran will executive produce Gossip Girl along with Schwartz and Savage, via their Fake Empire banner, and Leslie Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo of Alloy Entertainment. Fake Empire's Lis Rowinski is a co-EP. Warner Bros. TV produces with Fake Empire and Alloy Entertainment.