[01/30/12 - 11:00 AM]
Interview: "Gossip Girl" Executive Producer Josh Safran
By Jim Halterman (TFC)

A 100th episode is always a crowning achievement for any series but it's only expected that the CW drama "Gossip Girl" would go above and beyond the pack. In tonight's episode, the various story threads currently weaving throughout the fifth season culminate in grand fashion with a Royal Wedding involving none other than our favorite society gal, Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester). But will Blair really marry Prince Louis Grimaldi (Hugo Becker) as planned or will longtime love Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) or 'Lonely Boy' Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley) find a way to break it up? And how will Serena (Blake Lively) and Nate (Chace Crawford) figure into the drama? And just what will the elusive Gossip Girl have to say? Our Jim Halterman rang up Executive Producer Joshua Safran to see what he could find out about the hush-hush landmark episode.

Jim Halterman: In general, did you kind of know that the show would get to this point or do you approach it season by season?

Josh Safran: Definitely season by season. We have felt really honored and grateful to make it this far. You always like to hope but, really, nothing more than the glimmer in our eye. 'I hope we can make it there.'

JH: Was there a different kind of pressure knowing this is was the 100th episode and you might want to do something bigger than what you normally do?

JS: Yes. I wouldn't say it was pressure. It was more wanting to honor getting that far and knowing what that means. I definitely felt pressure as a writer to live up to expectations and, if you're a viewer who had stopped watching at some point and wanted to tune back in, I wanted this episode to stand on its own as well as be a part of the serial storytelling. Also, just to be something emotional and moving and also funny as only Georgina Sparks (Michelle Trachtenberg) can make it.

JH: It's really been clear this season just how much everyone has changed including Blair. Has that been a conscious choice to make sure the characters change but not so much so they're still making mistakes?

JS: Yeah, at the beginning of every season we sit down and we start towards the end of the season that we're in and we talk about where we are at with closing that character's journey for the season and then opening the new journey. Every finale gives a hint of what's to come. It was definitely very clear from the moment that Blair got engaged that this season would follow what it was like for her to be an American Princess, basically, or about to become an American Princess. In some ways that makes you powerful but in other ways you lose your identity because you're in service of something else, which is a Royal Family.

The other story we were very conscious of is that Serena has had a lot of relationships and has defined herself by them at some point but we feel like now Serena started to realize 'Now that I'm growing up I have to start to find myself by myself.' That has been her journey this year. And then Chuck and all that. Dan and his book has been years in the making...

JH: In the last few episodes, the religion card has come in with Blair's pact with God in saving Chuck's life. It seems whenever you bring religion into any story it can stir some people up or turn them off. Is that anything you thought about?

JS: We didn't figure it that way. It was definitely a turn in that story [that] was something we talked about but it was not 'Blair should believe in God.' The story didn't derive from there. The story derives from the fact that in a way Blair has lost something very, very, very important to her and it was out of her control having lost that. It's not so much that pact with God is so much as religious as it sort of is emotional and, in a way for Blair, a reason, a way to get control of the situation that was completely out of her control and devastating. Serena makes some very good points about the pact in the next episode.

JH: Of course, I feel like the 100th episode is going to be a lot about the wedding but what else is going on that you can tease? There are probably other pieces floating around.

JS: You definitely have pieces in terms of everyone's stories converge at the wedding, which we wanted to do anyway but in this particular episode I think more so than a lot, it really is the whole wedding. What I mean is that the entire thing revolves around the wedding. Sure, there's Dan and Serena's story, then you have Georgina, you have Chuck and Father Cavalia (Marc Menard) teaming up, you have Blair's two Dads... it's a lot but it's all just circling the wedding.

JH: Can you tell me does someone, anybody, get married in the 100th episode?

JS: I cannot tell you that but I appreciate you asking.

JH: I feel like Blair is not going to get married to who we think but there might be someone else...

JS: I understand as a viewer of television myself that that would totally make sense to me, the old switcheroo where 'I thought it was going to be... ?'

JH: How much is the 'Dair' (Dan and Blair) relationship going to keep popping up? Blair has a lot going on but that piece keeps popping up. Does that continue moving forward?

JS: Yes. That story definitely... as I said before, I know that I recently said that the triangle goes to a square and that's essentially what happens. Blair becomes more aware that there are more than two people vying for her heart.

JH: Assuming there is another 100 episodes in the show...

JS: ... that would be lovely but I somehow doubt that because I don't know if you want to see them still dealing with Gossip Girl when they're 35... but I'll let you finish your question.

JH: ... have you thought about a next generation of the show? I thought maybe you were heading that way when you had Jenny, Eric and Charlie but now a lot of them are not around anymore.

JS: It's funny, we always talk about a next generation but the strange thing is what do you create? I personally think that would be a lot of fun and I definitely would like to see the next generation but the problem comes up because our characters are all out of high school, including Jenny and Eric if they were on the show at this time. None of our leads are old enough to have children and now you don't want to say 'Here's a 16-year old you've never met who's interacting with Serena and Blair and yet going to Constance.' It's just difficult, unfortunately. I feel like they've aged themselves out. They're in that weird middle ground where they can't know anyone that age and they wouldn't know anyone who would be close to people of that age. But, again, we do talk about versions of a next generation and what's that like.

JH: Now that we've met the real Charlie Rhodes (Ella Rae Peck), is that someone we're seeing pop up again?

JS: Absolutely! The real Charlie Rhodes is very much around the periphery of our world.

JH: Assuming there's a season six, which I hope there is, it would be a sixth season of a show but have you thought about a reboot or a refresher? Or does it not need that?

JS: We like to think that every year there sort of is, because of what you said earlier, the characters goes through growth arcs every season but they're so organic so I think we'd want to look at it that way. Reboot is the wrong word but what is going to be the new growth for this character. That said, I do think this season more than ever the outsider influences on our characters [are there] but it's not like a Juliet (Katie Cassidy), who is an outside source. It's the fake Charlie Rhodes (Kaylee DeFer), who is related to the real Carol (Sheila Kelley)... it's within the family within this group so in a weird way a reboot of any kind would just be more of this family. The kids are all family with each other at this point and I don't mean the legal family but they're friends who have become family which is why you see the real Charlie Rhodes, the fake Charlie Rhodes and you know Jack Bass (Desmond Harrington) is coming back and William van der Woodsen (William Baldwin) is coming back. CeCe Rhodes (Caroline Lagerfelt) is coming back. It's a deepening of this family.

JH: Is your plan for whenever the last episode comes that we will find out who Gossip Girl actually is?

JS: Ummm... is it the plan? It's funny, I can't answer that question for reasons that will become apparent very soon.

JH: Now, you're freaking me out! [Both laugh.]

"Gossip Girl" airs Mondays at 8:00/7:00c on The CW.

  [january 2012]  


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