Hey, Upper East Siders. BuzzSugar here, with all the dish from Saturday night's Gossip Girl panel at the Paley Festival in Los Angeles. The sold-out crowd got some hints about what's coming up when the show returns with five new episodes starting April 21 and some of the scoop straight from the set — including the truth about Blake Lively's Guitar Hero skills, the plot lines that Gossip Girl series creator Cecily von Ziegesar would like to see included in the show, and how the fictional Gossip Girl blogger got her voice.
The evening started with a clip of the "Angela + Jordan = total sex in his car!" scene from My So-Called Life, which was greeted with appreciative cheers from the crowd — which was split pretty evenly between the MSCL demographic and the current teenage set. If not for the strike, we would have then gotten to see a new episode of Gossip Girl, but because none had been completed, we got a package of highlights from the season instead — including a mini gag reel of screw-ups from the set. (You know how every show seems to have that one cast member who can't help but drop an f-bomb every time he flubs a line? That's Penn Badgley.) The whole cast slipped into the auditorium to watch after the lights went down, so there was a lot of whispering and clapping going on in a row just to my left.
After clips, the cast and creative team took the stage. All of the main cast attended, along with creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, author von Ziegesar, and two of the show's other producers; the only obvious missing stars were Connor Paolo (Eric van der Woodsen) and Nicole Fiscella and Nan Zhang, who play Blair's dress-alike sidekicks Isabel and Kati. (Zhang apparently headed back to college during the strike, a fact Josh Schwartz said he only learned when they got back on set). Lively seemed to get the most applause, but there were plenty of squeals for Ed Westwick and Badgley, too.
Of course, the juiciest part of the evening was getting hints about what we'll see come April, so for the scoop (and update: here's part two!), just
- The biggest thing we'll be seeing: more Bad Serena! A lot of that will be thanks to the arrival of Georgina Sparks (Michelle Trachtenberg), a key figure from Serena's past and someone Blair fears.
- Teased Lively: "Maybe the fact that [Serena] slept with Nate isn't the real reason she left, dot dot dot . . . "
- Also, Serena and Chuck are getting used to the idea of being siblings, Dan is going to get dirtied up a little, and Blair and Jenny are going to war. Jenny will still be the queen bee when we return, just "learning her power," Taylor Momsen said.
- Serena and Eric's father is going to show up eventually, though nobody would say when. Also, the five episodes will be building up to a wedding, Schwartz said. Hmm, who's getting married — Lily and Bart Bass, perhaps?
- We'll also be seeing a lot more Vanessa — and not just in the Serena and Dan story. She's going to be getting some plots of her own, possibly including a little something with Nate.
- Speaking of Vanessa, finding Jessica Szohr to play her was something of a happy accident. Schwartz and Savage were having a tough time casting the role, but then Szohr turned up with some mutual friends at a barbecue at Schwartz's house. "I had to go home and IMDB her to make sure she was actually an actress," Savage said.
- One of the other great casting stories was Leighton Meester's. She was blonde when she auditioned, which proved to be a sticking point for the CW. "The network was like, 'She's great, but she's blonde,' Schwartz said. "We were like, 'She can also be brunette!'" But asking an actress to dye her hair during pilot season is a stretch, so Meester tried wearing a brown wig, which didn't work out so well. Eventually, she did take the plunge and dye her hair.
- Lively's requirements for signing on to a series: no having to be locked in a cage, no being brainwashed by an old lady, and no pet monkey. "I would love to be a part of the show," she said she told Schwartz, "but I can't act with a monkey." Thus, Chuck lost his pet monkey — a shame, according to von Ziegesar, who said the monkey just makes Chuck "gayer and gayer and gayer" in the books. Hmmm, could he be the guy coming out of the closet?
- The moderator (Entertainment Weekly's Tim Stack) asked Lively if she's as good at Guitar Hero as she was when Serena kicked ass at a party earlier this season. "I'm actually much better," she replied, revealing that she goes to tournaments in Brooklyn, covered in fake tattoos. She takes this stuff seriously: Originally, she was supposed to lose Guitar Hero to Vanessa, but she pleaded with the writers: "Let her get the guy, make her more beautiful, make her more talented, make her better in every way — but don't take away Guitar Hero!"
- She then revealed she can actually only play well on medium — though she can apparently spin the guitar around her neck.
- How did they pick the voice of Gossip Girl? Kristen Bell declared herself for the role, Savage said. But everyone was vague about whether we'd ever see the blogger in the flesh.
- Noting that all the parties on Schwartz/Savage shows seem to end in fisticuffs and tears, Stack asked the two to explain what happened to them at parties that so scarred them for life. Savage: "Every party I ever went to ended in fisticuffs and tears." Schwartz: "I was never at one."
Here are the rest of the goodies from the GG panel. xoxo . . .