Gossip Girl Paley Event

Tonight marked what would be the last night of Paleyfest ’08 (might go to DSM) for me. Fitting that this years festival ends with by far my favorite show of this season, Gossip Girl. Splattered about this blog are things that I’ve written about GG. Don’t feel the need to re-hash all of that. Normally I’d get super in detail for any sort of GG recap, but I figure if you’re going to read all of this, you probably saw the live stream on paleycenter.org and got a good idea of what went on. For those of you who missed it, I’m going to hit you with the highlights of tonight’s event.

For each of the events, they start off with a clip from the Paley vault, from a show which they feel is similar. Tonight the clip was from My So Called Life. There was a lot of applause, though I’m sure none of the people applauding actually saw the show when it aired. I twittered that I was pretty sure I was at least 3x the age of everyone else attending. I was glad to see afterwards that wasn’t the case. After the clip moderator, Tim Stack, from Entertainment weekly introduced Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage who welcomed everyone and introduced the clip reel from GG.
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After the clip reel and bonus outtakes, Tim Stack came back on and introduced the panel. In attendance were Jessica Szohr (Vanessa), Taylor Momsen (Jenny), Bob Levy (producer), Matthew Settle (Papa Humphrey), Kelly Rutherford (Mama Van Der Woodsen), Ed Westwick (Chuck), Chase Crawford (Nate), Penn Badgley (Dan), Leighton Meester (Blair), Blake Lively (Serena), Cecily von Ziegesar (author), Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz (Exec Producers).
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Tim cracked me up when he started off addressing Blake and Leighton reminding them of the first time he interviewed them which was in bed. He exclaimed that this was the first time he had been in bed with a woman, much less TWO. Tim then started gushing about Blake’s “Gorgeous” hair. This was the first of MANY references to her fantastic hair. I swear, someone in the audience is going to get her a Pantene deal if she doesn’t have one already.
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Tim asked Cecily about her books and how they compare to the show. Cecily said that the books were based on herself and her friends, kind of. Josh and Stephanie then fielded the inevitable OC comparison question. Josh said that he hadn’t heard of the books but was sent them. He read the first one and knew it was something he wanted to be involved with. Stephanie said that she experienced a bit of trepidation with having another teen show, but was confident it would be great. Tim joked about doing research a la “Never Been Kissed.” Josh said that was all on Stephanie cause he would have just been thrown in jail if he tried to pull that off.

Leighton talked about how she got involved with the project. She read for it and thought “I’m Blair.” Problem was that she was blonde at the time. Even the network said, “…but she’s blonde.” She read again in a wig and then eventually with newly dyed brown hair. Stephanie said, “That was a big deal because if you ask an actress to dye her hair during pilot season, you better have a good feeling she’s going to get the role.” Josh then talked about how every website that he came across during casting kept saying that Blake better be cast. He said he better meet her. Blake then talked about signing six years to play one character and how that was initially scary for her. She said she wasn’t even looking to go into TV. Blake then said she laid down some ground rules for her coming on: No snakes, no getting locked in a cage, and no pet monkeys. The monkey thing reared its head several times the rest of the night. More on that later… The rest of the cast talked about the roles that they read for. Chase said that he read for the part of Serena! Ed read for the part of Nate. Penn said that he really didn’t want to get into TV again after three other failed series. He brought up “The Mountain.” I think two people clapped. Penn pointed toward them and exclaimed, “See?!” In a case of “you really just never know in this town,” Jessica talked about how she went to a BBQ with friends and ended up meeting Josh and Stephanie. Stephanie immediately knew she was going to be Vanessa. Stephanie did say that she IMDBed Jessica to make sure she was an actress!

Bob revealed that GG was actually pitched as an hour-long to other networks and as a movie to Fox which obviously never panned out. He said that the key change happened when Josh and Stephanie got involved and gave Serena a drive. They both wanted Serena to play that she wanted to be better – wanted to be a better person. Josh then talked about how GG played at TCA. He got comments that it was all so depraved and that it was the end of Western Civilization!

The ‘rents got into the panel action. Kelly talked about shooting in NY. She said that the fans are very vocal. They walk by set in their own uniforms and Hermes bags and shout out love. Tim asked if it was hard to shut down sets. He thought that shooting on the steps of the MET would be especially challenging. Kelly chimed back in that the hard part was shooting in 22 degree weather and the paparazzi. One time in fact she said that paparazzi were following her around. She told them, “I’m the Mom. I’m not worth it!” Tim then compared Lily and Rufus’ relationship to the whole “will they and won’t they Ross and Rachel situation.” Matthew said, “Hey, it’s 2008. We should have a double date with the kids!” This garnered a huge “eww… no!” from Blake. Matthew finished by talking about his chemistry with Kelly and stating that their characters are “holding hands on the inside.”

Ed got into the action by fielding a question about the scarves his character wears. He started telling a story about he was just out and about in NY and saw a guy wearing a really cool scarf. When he was done Josh said, “All I understood was scarf.” We all found out that the actress that plays Cati went back to school at Brown due to the time off with the writer’s strike. Chase said, “No really, she’s brilliant. She’s a molecular biologist or something. I’ve seen her books on set.” Looks like Is is on her own now.

Taylor fielded a question about how Jenny usurped B’s throne. Tim hinted at her even going after Nate. She replied, “Well, he’s like the older brother not related to her that she MIGHT want to date.” Taylor then said that Jenny is learning her power, as evidenced by another girl taking her books in to the library for her towards the end of the last episode. Taylor said, “She wants to be in and she’s going to do things to be in.” To this Tim asked Leighton if it was more fun playing B as in control or less bitchy? Leighton said a little of both. Eventually talk came around to Blair sleeping with Chuck which Ed said, “Yes! Thank God for that! Two thumbs up!”

Blake talked about Serena and that “she is the way she is because she doesn’t have a proper role model – look at her mom.” Kelly coughed and said, “excuse me?!” Blake then said that maybe sleeping with Nate wasn’t the reason she left. Josh stopped that really quickly. I found that odd because the role that Michelle Trachtenberg just signed on for is supposed to shake things up AND possibly reveal that there was another reason why Serena left. It was all over the trades! At any rate, Blake said that we were in for more bad Serena, even if it might be in flashbacks OR NOT.

Cecily said that, no offense to the cast and creative team, but her expectations were so low for the show. She said, “I’m a New Yorker. I wear tights. What was this going to be? Gossip Girl on the beach where Nate’s a lifeguard and Blair’s a mom by day and a stripper at night?” She then said that she was pretty pissed off about the changes from the book when she saw the pilot. By episode 2 though, she was fine with it all. The books and the show were two different entities – separate but both cool. Cecily talked about other changes from the book. Oddly enough, Chuck is gay and gets a pet monkey in the books. Blake quasi freaks out and shushes Cecily. Ed says that the monkey must have turned him gay. In the winner of the AWKWARD moment of the night, Cecily brings up how Jenny has huge boobs in the books. Taylor rolls with it and looks down at her chest and smiles. Cecily couldn’t leave it at that and says, “Well, you really haven’t gone through puberty yet, right?” Taylor seemed a bit OFF after that.

Tim asked Josh, “Where are the gay people on the show?” Josh said that the question he actually gets the most is “Where are the Jews? How are you in New York and there are no Jews?” Here’s where the monkey thing comes back again: Josh said that during sweeps they should have a Gay Jewish monkey on the show.

Blake talked about Guitar Hero in the show. Tim asked if she’s really good at the game to which Blake responded, “I’m actually pretty incredible at Guitar Hero.” Josh says that in the original script, Vanessa KILLS Serena at Guitar Hero. Blake said, “No, you can’t take away my guitar hero!” She proved her mettle and there was a re-write. Tim asked what her song was in GH. Blake explained that they are all her songs and actually the secret is that she’s AMAZING at MEDIUM. Everyone on stage and off is laughing. Tim says, “Maybe you’re not that good then.” “NO,” Blake exclaims, “I am good. I even entered a tournament in Brooklyn. I can even do flair like twirling the guitar around my neck.” Tim asked if her gorgeous hair flailed about when she did this trick. Blake retorted, “Would you even like me if I didn’t have good hair?!” This exchanged ended with Josh saying that Medium is the new standard for excellence!

When asked about what affect the strike will have on the show, Stephanie stated, “We’re ending in the same place, we’re just getting there more quickly.” Things to look forward to are: more on the B and Little J war, S and Chuck as siblings, Georgina (Trachtenberg) wreaking havoc and the fact that B FEARS her, and a wedding. I, along with the audience assumed that this was an allusion to Bart and Lily. Josh teased that the wedding might not necessarily be the one that we’re expecting. Tim then asked if we’re ever going to see GG. Penn says, “Yeah, Veronica Mars. Veronica Mars, right?” Josh then explained that Kristen decided that she was going to be GG. She read the script and she reached out to him and Stephanie.

One of the questions from the audience was whether or not Blake and Leighton get to keep their wardrobes. Both of them talk about how a lot of what they wear is one of a kind and thusly need to go back to the designers. Leighton then says that fans don’t really get to see the best part of the wardrobe – SHOES. Leighton said that they really get to wear some fantastic shoes. Penn chimes in, “Well, we should be lifting more legs then?” Hilarious. A bit off, but hilarious.

There was a bit more on the question front from the audience, but this is already getting quite long. I’m sure that a video will surface of the entire affair. The panel ends and there’s almost a hesitation from the crowd to approach the stage. No pause from me, but all of a sudden WAVES of people are trying to push past me. It’s time to pick my battle time. Oddly enough, Blake made the choice for me. She needed to go off to the ladies. Because of this, EVERYONE converged on Leighton and the boys. I just took some pictures and got out of the way.
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I took time to see both Kelly and Jessica as I waited for Blake to return. I’ve got to say that the TV doesn’t do justice to either of these ladies.
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Finally Blake returns. The masses that converged on Leighton catch wind of this and switch directions. I felt like I was in pre-pubescent rapids with no boat or paddle. Luckily I positioned myself well and got to meet Blake and talk for just a bit.
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I then turned into everyone’s photographer as people used me like a fulcrum to get to Blake. I have to say that NONE of the cast was ushered off quickly. I’m pretty sure everyone that was there got stuff signed.
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I was able to catch Taylor on the way to the “green room.”
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Hope you enjoyed the recap. It really was a fun time and I’m sure everyone enjoyed themselves. Can’t wait until April 21st. I’m sure you can’t either. Go out and tell your friends about GG. Host viewing parties and get everyone caught up. As much buzz as there is with the show, at some point lack of viewers will come into play. Don’t let it go down the road of other prematurely ended series, AHEM, Veronica Mars! Get a move on. You’ve got almost a month. :)

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~ by Francis Orante on March 23, 2008.

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