Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Gossip Girl Creator Josh Safran Dishes On The Reboot, Kristen Bell, And Teases An Original Series Cameo - Exclusive Interview

If the name Josh Safran sounds familiar, you might just be a hardcore "Gossip Girl" fan. While the anticipation of the "Gossip Girl" reboot is taking social media by storm, Safran was there from the very beginning of the titular show chronicling New York City's Upper East Side elite. Safran was certainly involved with writing and producing the original series, but now he's helming the reboot as creator, writer, and executive producer. That's a whole lot of hats to wear, but Blair certainly had a large enough closet for him to borrow a few. 

With such a heavy hand in the original series, along with lending his writing and executive producing talent on hit shows including "Smash" and "Quantico," Safran was the perfect person for the job — and he had a precise vision for the next generation of Constance Billard students. Not even the steps of the Met can safely hold these Upper East Siders. Yet, unlike their predecessors, the "Gossip Girl" Gen Z class is slightly more aware of their privilege — and the world around them.

Looper spoke to Josh Safran during an exclusive interview. He debunked some major rumors, teased an original character cameo, and told us everything we need to know about Kristen Bell's new reigning Gossip Girl post-Dan Humphrey

Josh Safran debunks the woke 'nontroversy' over the Gossip Girl reboot

Some of the original "Gossip Girl" fans have expressed some disappointment that the show is tackling privilege in a more woke way than the original, rather than the sort of privileged, glitz, and glamor that we're used to. Why was it important for you to take the show in this direction? And why will original fans still want to tune into the new series if they were looking forward to a little bit more of a trivial, rich people problems type of show?

Well, you've seen the episodes, so I think you can see that that quote was taken out of context. The girls go pretty hard on each other in episode four specifically. So, I think this is actually a nontroversy, sort of much ado about nothing. That quote, actually the quote that was attributed to me, was actually the author of the article's quote and not something I actually said. I did say that the kids wrestle with their privilege more, but I did not say that they don't abuse it. It would be completely incorrect to do a story about teenagers in 2021 and pretend like they don't know about how much money they have and their privilege. So, I mean frankly, I think most of the people weighing in on that are not the age of the characters. And I think anyone who has been on TikTok for more than 30 seconds understands that kids these days don't want to see [Kylie] Jenner say, "My car cost $3 million."

They want to see the car, and they know that she has the car, but they don't want her to see or hear her go like, "Ooh, look at this $3 million car I bought." So, that is something that happened. But I remember, there was an influencer who posted how much their car costs, and the fans weren't like, "Don't buy a fancy car." They understood how much money she had, that it was just don't flaunt to the price. That is what Gen Z is talking about now. So, I'm sorry I make a show for Gen Z, who has those conversations. I'm not making the show for millennials that are like, "Oh no, woke is bad." And also because we see in the show and the characters may be woke, but they still do terrible things. We'll be dealing with rich people problems, too.

New generation, same show

What do you think fans from the original will like about the show?

I mean, the DNA is still the same. It still is everybody goes to glamorous events and dresses impeccably and cheats on each other. And I don't know. I mean, it's still like my joke has been like I did 111 [episodes] of the first show with Josh [Schwartz] and Stephanie [Savage]. I just didn't do the last 10. So, this show is so in my blood and bones that it's the same show on a cellular level. It's just a different time period with different characters. 

So, if you liked the first one, you're going to like the second one. If you're looking for the first one, that is going to maybe be where your problem is — but we would never have tried to make the first one. We don't have the same cast. If everybody was coming back and this was a "Sex in the City"-like continuation, we would make it the original show. This is not that. So, it has to be its own thing and just shares this DNA. So, I still think that it's [a] success. I mean, I think it works. It feels like the show. It still does. 

Kristen Bell brings undeniable authenticity to the Gossip Girl reboot

Having Kristen Bell narrating the series makes it actually feel real — like it's in the same universe, even though we don't have some of those original characters. Do you get to work with her at all? And what is that experience like?

Yeah, I mean, she's the greatest. And I think if she had not wanted to do it, we would have just been like, okay, lets none of us do it. Because [the] first day her voiceover came in for the pilot because of the voiceover had been our [post] supervisor, who's great at it, but it's not Kristen Bell. The second you heard Kristen Bell, you're like, 'Oh, there's the show,' right? She is the show.

So, I think the best thing that happened was Kristen understood, because I don't want to give away the spoiler, but Kristen understood. I know you've seen it, but I'm saying I don't know when this is running. Kristen understood that it wasn't Dan Humphrey writing "Gossip Girl." And so, without even me having to talk to her about it, she called me, and she was like, "I should read this a little differently because it's not Dan." And I was like, "Yes, actually." That's totally... I wouldn't have thought to give her that direction. She knows the character so much and knows the show so well. And so, it's just awesome. And you can hear it. If you listen, it's actually in there. You can hear the difference.

I love that. Might we see any familiar guests stars from the original series?

Yes. Yes. So, I didn't want to immediately bring in series regulars from the original series, because, as you saw, the cast is so much bigger now that there wouldn't be time to give them. Meaning if you want to see Blair [Waldorf], you want to see Blair have a whole story. You don't want to see her have two scenes. So, there are supporting characters from the original cast that come back that maybe are happy to check in with, but you don't need to spend the entire episode with. So, you'll start to see the first one is in episode five.

Ooh, exciting!

"Gossip Girl" fans can tune into the new series on HBO Max beginning July 8. And if you're rusty on your Upper East Side lingo, all episodes featuring the original crew are streaming on HBO Max now.