Kristen Bell Returning for 'Gossip Girl' Update at HBO Max

Kristen Bell is returning to a familiar role.

The Good Place and Frozen favorite, following a months-long dealmaking process, has officially closed a deal to return for HBO Max's update on Gossip Girl. Bell will reprise her role as the narrator for the new take on the former CW drama from creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.

"Kristen Bell has always been and will always be the voice of Gossip Girl," the producers said in a statement Thursday. 

The HBO Max take, written by former showrunner Josh Safran, was picked up straight to series with a 10-episode order. The update of the former Blake Lively vehicle is described as an extension of the original series that takes place eight years after the original "website" went dark. It follows a new generation of New York private school teens who are introduced to the social surveillance of Gossip Girl. The series will address how much social media — and the landscape of New York — has changed in the intervening years. Safran will pen the script and exec produce alongside Schwartz and Savage.

Bell served as the narrator — the omniscient blogger Gossip Girl — for all six seasons comprising 121 episodes. She appeared onscreen briefly for a surprise cameo (playing herself) in the series finale.

Watch the clip, below.

"The show went off the air in 2012, and a couple of years later there was talk of revisiting it as a low-budget feature at New Line. The idea of being able to do it on a streamer where we're less restricted was very exciting to us, so we called [executive producer] Josh Safran," Schwartz told THR in October of how the new iteration came together.
Added Savage: "Safran loves twists and turns. I don't think it's going to be a meditative version of Gossip Girl. It's not a tone poem. 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."

The Gossip Girl deal comes as Bell has wrapped production on the final season of The Good Place and as the sequel to Frozen prepares to light up the holiday box office. She also has a voice role in Apple's animated comedy Central Park and exec produces and hosts unscripted series Encore for Disney+. She recently returned to reprise her role in Hulu's Veronica Mars update. She's repped by CAA and Schreck Rose.

A premiere date for Gossip Girl has yet to be determined. HBO Max will launch in May 2020 at a rate of $15 a month. The WarnerMedia-backed streaming platform will feature an extensive library of favorites (Friends, Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones) as well as original scripted and unscripted series.