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Kelly Rutherford interview 2013 - Gossip Girl best memories, movie, series finale, Dan being Gossip Girl, and staying in touch with cast-mates!
As many of you know, this week saw the end of an era — the culmination of our work on our Reality Index, in which we followed each episode of Gossip Girl like an army of headband-wearing, undermining minions, slavishly collecting details in service of … a special scientific experiment, the details of which can never be revealed. Over the past five-plus years, we (Chris Rovzar, Chris’s Boyfriend, the Commenter Formerly Known as Jessica’s Husband, and I, accompanied by a mostly merry band of commenters) have spent hours questioning the decisions of the creators of the Greatest Show of Our Time, alternately praising them for their sensitivity and chiding them for their crazy-ass plotting and seeming inability to control certain actors’ irrepressible hair and cleavage. Now that the Reality Index has come to an end, It seemed only fair to give the people on the, er, “Inside” of Gossip Girl a chance to talk back. Herewith, their comments on theGossip Girl Reality Index.
More Real Than Mayor Bloomberg’s Gossip Girl Fandom
Stephanie Savage, writer/co-creator: I heard the writers talking about it in the room after the pilot aired. Josh Safran sent me a link. I remember reading, thinking it was clever and funny — cooler than a recap! obsessed with New York, just like us! — but I didn’t really lock in until I got to: “Dancing on tables at Bungalow.” After its steady decline in recent years, the high-school crowd is right about where that place is at these days. +8. And that was exactly our rationale for picking it! Literally, Josh Schwartz and I were musing aloud about who was letting in the hot high school girls and we were like, Bungalow! Hahaha. And you guys got it completely. But then came: Formal invitations — on paper — are issued for the “Kissing on the Lips Party.” -2. Real kids use Evite. Evite??? You had me, then you lost me. But you immediately (re-)got me with your self-deprecating retraction/correction: “Update: A very alert (and very correct) young reader e-mailed us to point out: “Evite? Please. Real kids use Facebook.” So true! We have never felt more old or irrelevant.” And thus reading the Index and the comments became a Tuesday-morning ritual.
Zuzanna Sadowski, a.k.a. Dorota: I have actually been known to get to the NYMag site too early on a Tuesday and to have to refresh, refresh, refresh until the recap comes up. I know perfection can’t be rushed.
Eric Daman, costume designer: My team and I read it aloud every Tuesday morning, almost religiously, usually with giggles and smirks, sometimes with scowls as our fabulous fashions were scrutinized.
Brittany Griffin, assistant costume designer: Cleavage Rhombus was all of a sudden a term we used with frequency.
Eric Daman: The Cleavage Rhombus really had a mind of its own and would show up unexpectedly, but definitely gained more attention once NYMag named it. We totally tried to push the Rhombus Index beyond its original Herve Leger traffic-stopping appearance to the ultimate, “can’t-go-any further-without-an-R-rating,” perfectly framed in a Maxime Simoens cut-out tux jacket.
Jessica Queller, writer/producer: I can’t remember which episode the pierogies were in — I think it was Handmaiden’s Tale — but they gave negative points about the veracity of Vanessa going all the way to the East Village to Veselka to get pierogies and then BACK to Brooklyn. They are totally right!! The Veselka reference was so true to my experience of being young in NYC in the early nineties. But that was before everyone I knew migrated to Brooklyn. Totally unrealistic that Vanessa would have schlepped to the East Village.
Amanda Lasher, writer/producer: Graham Collins was the name of my real-life unrequited crush in high school. Awesome getting it into the script, weirdly more awesome seeing it in the Reality Index: “Eric knows Graham Collins because he went to Camp Suisse with him. Plus 2, because there’s even a hot-dog ski tube on the homepage for this camp, which apparently Graham and Eric both spent some time riding. (“What happens at Camp Suisse doesn’t stay at Camp Suisse!”)” P.S.: I wound up stalking Graham on Facebook when I wrote this episode and learned that he is still crazy hot. If we are giving out points out, then Plus 10 to Graham for staying so hot and Minus 20 because he never even gave me a drunken pity make-out session in high school and I was cute enough for at least that. Also, I had a lot of fun researching Camp Suisse. It’s real! I want to go!
Jessica Queller: In the “Age of Dissonance,” they subtracted points for Blair’s Chekhov line: “I’m an actress. No, I’m a seagull.”!! They wrote: “Holy crap. Jessica Queller was clearly a double drama major in college. As in drama and DRA-ma. Minus 2.” They nailed me perfectly!!!
Dawn Ostroff, former CW president and namesake of the Ostroff Center: “You changed our life, I want you to know that. You put us on the map in a lot of ways. I can honestly tell you that you had a huge influence on that show being a success. And I always thought you were very fair. There weren’t many times I thought you were that far off. But Stephanie and Josh will have things to say. They’re so particular, and they have excellent memories. Good or bad, they’ll carry the grudge.”
Natalie Krinsky, writer/producer: They are a gossip girl to our gossip girl and it’s just so STRESSFUL (as Serena might say) to have them follow our every move and report on what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong. It just feels like someone is ALWAYS watching us … waiting, looking over our shoulder … judging us! (Sarcastically/tongue in cheek of course … but … that’s kind of who they are — hiding behind their computers — commenting! Encouraging others to send in THEIR comments) …
Faker Than Our Knowledge of Vietnamese
Stephanie Savage: As much as we loved when the Index or commenters mentioned something we felt the same way about, it was incredibly vexing when something we’d done was misinterpreted or didn’t come across. There were a zillion times I wanted to explain or clarify, to defend with documentation or at least narrate the process as to why we made a certain choice. The Dumbo-Williamsburg debate of 2007 (a.k.a. the Most Obnoxious Real-Estate Conundrum of Our Time) made me so ashamed that couldn’t keep silent, and I broke down and wrote a lengthy, sweaty reply to your query about the location of the Humphrey loft. Because it wasn’t like we didn’t talk about this stuff. We had giant fights in the scout van about Dan Humphrey’s transit route to St. Jude’s. We made the writer’s assistant call a marina to find out how people get their mail delivered when they are traveling around the world on a yacht. Asked a doctor what a bullet wound would look after a year of healing. And debated the characters’ astrological signs (B is a Scorpio, S is a Leo; which is why we always got to see B’s birthday but never S’s, which happened over the show’s summer hiatus). It is totally realistic that Chuck Bass would take the bus like he does in the pilot (weekday mornings, all the real-life CB’s gather in front of the Ralph Lauren store on Madison, waiting to ride to the Nineties). But we also kind of loved that somehow a 16-year-old being chauffeured around in his own stretch limo ended up seeming more realistic, because of who Chuck became as a character.
Zuzanna Sadowski, a.k.a. Dorota: Often the writers of GG would give me, as an actor, a tremendous gift. I would have something particularly funny to do, a spy mission, some high-level meddling, or even a new piece of wardrobe. On these occasions I would check the recap hoping to see this highlighted and sometimes Jessica and Chris would leave me sadly wanting! Thank goodness for the army of astute commenters who would never let me down. If I was ever in need of Dorota love I just had to scroll down.
Stephanie Savage: Most of the time, the commenters would catch and correct stuff themselves. (I did think quite a bit about creating a false persona so I could log on and do it myself, but the best names were already taken. I’m talking to you, FEED_THE_DUCKS, CHUCKISMYPUPPY, GINSOAKEDCECE, MACARONSANDSCOTCH and SCHEMINGWITHSCONES. Plus you guys are really hard on each other’s spelling.)
Zuzanna Sadowski, a.k.a. Dorota: I want to give a plus 100 to my favorite commentator often featured in the recap of the recap — Nikole0602. Just always funny. More importantly for me, a plus 100000 goes to the two commentators with the best names by far — IamDorota and Feed_the_Ducks. Plus 500 goes to runner-up Monkeyandmacarons. I love you guys.
Amanda Lasher: I gave you guys Blair masturbating. You gave me this: “Blair would have never referenced having to “finish something” to Dorota after her interrupted sex dream. That’s way too embarrassing. Minus 2. An additional minus 2 for Dorota reminding her that “God is always watching.” Dorota would never be that judgy — or perceptive. She’s a nun, isn’t she?” I expected more from you.
Stephanie Savage: Come on:Gossip Girl never said that Blair shopped at Tally Weijl or Printemps in Paris. Just that it’s “chic and cheerful up on Boulevard Haussmann” (which it is)! And we did try to observe the time difference between Paris and New York! The sun rises earlier and sets later in Paris than in New York! The Bart Bass event in The Revengers wasn’t at the Empire Hotel (it doesn’t look anything like the Empire!!), and we really did shoot on the roof of that building — our “Batman backdrop” was the city where you live! Why did none of the characters have iPhones? Because we had a deal with Verizon, who did not have a deal with iPhone until 2011 (after that, they had iPhones). Serena’s tranny talons in “The Last Days of Disco Stick” and Dan’s mushroom hair at the beginning of season five were both courtesy of movies they were shooting at the time. Why did you never see Scott again? Did you honestly want to see Scott??
Eric Daman: It was mostly fun and cheeky, except when comparing one of Blair’s Oscar de la Renta gowns to curtain and couch tapestry … just jealous I guess. :)
Brittany Griffin, assistant costume designer: That gown was awesome, it did not look like curtains!
Stephanie Savage: Woke up in the middle of the night and realized: We did end up saying that B and S went into those stores on Haussmann!! It wasn’t in the original script (which is what I remember), but it changed before it aired. So apologies for my outrage and kudos to whoever picked that up. Because yes.
Stephanie Savage: The last Recap of the Recap is the final GG ritual. After it’s posted, the show will be officially over for us. As will the unique relationship — equal parts narcissism and masochism (I want to see what they said! … So I can feel bad about myself!) — we got to experience with our very own Greek chorus of snark. Many thanks for the years of vigilance and vigilantism, and for keeping us real with your weekly index. A bittersweet farewell to the Humfro, the cleavage rhombus, the NJBC acronym, and tarantula sex.
Dorota/Suzanna: I am so sad to see this show end. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to play Dorota and to be a part of the zeitgeist of the UES. Thank you guys for pulling the show apart down to its very fibers, pointing up the detail, ultimately championing the whole and making it even more fun! I will miss you dearly. XOXO!
Brittany Griffin: P.S.: If you watch Carrie Diaries you’ll know why Vanessa was standing in a vintage-looking kitchen. Good eye.
Stephanie Savage: Oh, and also? That your own Vulture did not name you one of its Top 25 Most Devoted Fan Bases? We were all robbed.
Who is Gossip Girl? Will Dan and Serena get together? Will Chuck and Blair get married and have tons of beautiful and conniving babies together? And can returning guest star Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen) still open her eyelids after so many years of heavy eye-makeup layering?
These are the burning questions that will be answered tonight as the CW’s first-ever hit,Gossip Girl, signs off after six “OMG”-worthy seasons.
To celebrate (and prepare!), we chatted with executive producer Stephanie Savage about what fans can expect from tonight’s final two-hour episode. And here are five things you need to know:
1. The Gossip Girl Reveal Wasn’t Planned All Along—but It Was a Possibility: Savage explains why she and the writers felt it important to reveal Gossip Girl’s true identity in this last episode: “When you’re thinking about a finale, you go back to the pilot, you think about everybody’s series arcs and think what is the premise of the show? In this case, ‘Who is Gossip Girl?’ is a big part of the show. We had a thought in the back of our minds who Gossip Girl was, but we were never sure if we were going to reveal that. Was it something the audience wanted to know, or would they rather not know? We kept it very open. Then last year, we did a lot of storytelling with Gossip Girl and it felt right that this year, she would be revealed.” She? Hmmm!
2. The Cast Was “Surprised” by Who Gossip Girl Turned Out to Be: ”The actors were really excited and surprised,” Savage tells me. “Everyone has had many theories over the years. I think they liked it.”
3. The Writers Were “United” on How the Show’s Core Couples Should End Up: ”When you create a series,” Savage explains, “you have an idea in the back of your mind where you think everybody is going to end up. But you have to be very open to the road the actors and characters take, which I think we really tried to be on Gossip Girl. In the end, I think I always felt I knew who I wanted to be together. By the time we were at the end of season five, the writers were all united about how we felt everything should end.”
4. No Regrets: When asked if there are any storylines she would go back and change over the course of the series, Savage replies: “There are too many things to think about what you would do differently. That’s one of the good and bad things about television, you have to keep going and you can’t second guess yourself.”
5. Don’t Rule Out a Gossip Girl Movie. “It’s funny we’ve never talked about [a movie] seriously until the show was actually ending,” Savage says. “We’ve never had any legitimate conversations about doing a movie until we were saying goodbye. Then we said, ‘We’ll do a movie, Broadway show or reunion show, right?’ Even though we are likely to see each other again it’s not like we’ll all be working together again, so that’s where the fantasy starts.”
Say so long to Gossip Girl tonight with three hours of Upper Eastside goodness on the CW—including a one-hour retrospective and two-hour finale. Then come back to E! Online tonight for our take on what went down, and more scoop from showrunner Stephanie Savage tomorrow morning! After you watch the finale, tweet any questions you have to @kristindsantos and we’ll ask her as many as we can.
Teen drama series ran for six seasons and made names for Penn Badgley, Blake Lively, Ed Westwick and Leighton Meester
Goodbye “Gossip Girl,” XOXO.
The bi-atchy teen drama that turned into a guilty pleasure for millions, ends Monday with a two-hour finale (8 p.m. on The CW/Ch. 11) that producers say will leave fans satisfied.
“We feel like we got the characters to a good destination,” said Stephanie Savage, who created the show in 2006 with teen angst drama whiz, Josh Schwartz (“The O.C.”).
Among those producers will most fondly miss is the show’s most important personality: New York City.
“I think New York was a huge character in the show,” said Savage. “We joke that she’s our ninth lead.” For six seasons, the show followed the dramatic upheavals in the lives of spoiled, rich prep school kids living on the Upper East Side and playing in the Hamptons.
The backstabbing, snitching and gossip continued as some went to college and others took their shots at the kind of glamorous jobs found only in Manhattan —and script writers’ imaginations.
But always, there was the city.
“You could feel the energy and the color in the streets,” Savage said. “The sight of Dan Humphrey (played by Penn Badgley) running through a sea of yellow cabs, or Serena (Blake Lively) and her brother escaping from a hospital bed to shop at Henri Bendel (on Fifth Ave.) — there’s no substitute for shooting in New York.”
Savage said the network initially resisted the notion of allowing her and Schwartz to film on location in Manhattan, citing costs and other potential difficulties with production.
“It was a big battle,” she said. “Certainly a lot of people thought that when we first start that we’d never be able to shoot at the Met or in Grand Central Terminal — we did both.
“This city is great for shooting, the crews are amazing, the (Mayor’s) film commission is incredible and the people on the streets were always great.”
The show has been lauded as having a huge influence on youth culture and fashion. And of course it also turned some of its stars — like Lively, Taylor Momsen and Leighton Meester — into A-list names.
“We fell in love with our cast fast and hard and could never anticipate their success,” Savage said. “It’s been very emotional and I think we end in a great place.”
For six seasons, anonymous blogger Gossip Girl has been able to uncover pretty much any secret and sordid scandal about S, B, Lonely Boy and the rest of the Upper East Side. It’s ironic, considering what the series producers had to do to keep the identity of the unapologetically nosy snitch under wraps until Monday’s Gossip Girlseries finale (8/7c on The CW).
“It’s been very nerve-wracking for me to try to keep it a secret,” co-creator and executive producer Stephanie Savage tells TVGuide.com of the many precautions taken to keep the name concealed. “But I’m excited for people to find out. The cast and crew were definitely excited when they found out so I’m hoping our fans have the same reaction.”
The show’s crew went to these great lengths to protect a secret that almost even didn’t make it into the finale at all. “We always had an idea in our minds of who Gossip Girl was, which we needed to be able to tell our stories, but we were never sure if we were going to reveal that,” Savage says. “We weren’t sure that that was something that the audience would want to know. Maybe they would like the idea of not knowing who Gossip Girl was.”
However, it was a Season 5 story line — in which Georgina (Michelle Trachtenberg) and later, Serena (Blake Lively) filled in for Gossip Girl — that changed producers’ minds. “Last year we did so much storytelling with Gossip Girl in the character that it felt like this year we needed to reveal her true self,” she says.
Savage emphasizes the importance of this kind of flexibility when discussing the series finale, which was first announced last May. “I think it’s something that you might have certain ideas or images of when you start, but you really have to be open to the journey the show takes you on and where the characters go,” she says of crafting the final hour. “I think there were some character endgames that were always in our minds, but again, you have to be open to maybe that’s not where fate is going to take people.”
Savage specifically points to bad boy-turned-Blair’s knight in shining armor, Chuck, as having changed the most from the pilot to the finale. “I feel like Chuck has gone on the biggest journey of any one on the show. In the pilot, he’s pretty much a pure villain. He’s not a character that has a lot of layers. That was something Ed Westwick really brought as an actor,” Savage says. “And his chemistry with Leighton [Meester] — when we saw them together on screen and the power of the two of them working together but also being attracted to each other, which really inspired us to grow that character and give him some more layers.”
So will Chuck and Blair get their happy ending after Bart fell to his death — for realz this time! — at the end of the penultimate episode? “Obviously Chuck was up there when Bart met his demise and he was seen earlier at the event publicly speaking out against him so a lot of people will be looking for him,” Savage says. “Chuck and Blair are both where they wanted to be, but are circumstances such that they’ll be able to be together the way that they wanted to? Or have too many things happened that will stand in their way?”
Previews for the finale hint at the two tying the knot, but Savage won’t confirm or deny. “There definitely is a wedding,” she says. “Whether people get hitched without a hitch or whether there’s complications is something to tune in for.”
Savage teases several other milestones in the episode, including a flashback scene that shows Dan (Penn Badgley) and Serena at some point before the events in the pilot took place. Another big moment will be an on-screen appearance by Kristen Bell, who has voiced Gossip Girl for the last six years. “It was really funny and very, very special to be shooting with her. She’s an intimate part of our family but yet we never get to see her,” Savage says. “To be able to make her a part of our storytelling just felt like the perfect way to crown her work with us over the years.”
Although Gossip Girl will finally be unveiled, Savage says not everything will be so cut-and-dried. “It’s Gossip Girl, so I think you want to give closure, but everything doesn’t necessarily have a perfect bow on it. There’s always going to be unanswered questions and twists you didn’t see coming,” Savage says. “The tone of the show is not completely sentimental — there’s a little bit of a bite to it and I think the finale is going to have that.”
Despite these question marks and surprise twists, Savage is still confident fans will walk away satisfied. “It’s definitely emotional, but I think we left the show in a great place and I’m very proud of everything we’ve accomplished,” she says.
The Gossip Girl series finale airs Monday at 8/7c on The CW.
What do you hope to see in the Gossip Girl finale?
Your selections for Gossip Girl have become basically my playlist. I mean, you taught me about Warpaint. I can’t thank you enough.
Aren’t they great? They’re so great.
It’s like you know the sound, you know what’s hot. That’s hard to do.
I’m not as concerned about that as you’d think. I think that really we get exposed to so much music. Really excellent stuff is very self-evident. It really is, especially when you listen to so much. I’m sure you do the same thing for your job and you know, great bands really stick out. Then they become career bands…not so interesting to watch. Like brand new bands that become the sounds of the time.
Well, I can’t listen to B.o.B.’s “Ghost In The Machine” without thinking about Paris and Blair driving by Chuck Bass in a limo. Or Sia’s “I’m In Here” without thinking of them meeting in France again. You know, the visuals heavily play into it too, and your placing of the music in those visuals helps an artist greatly.
I think, though, that the artists help… I mean, I think that it’s a beautiful… I think everything sort of works for a reason and I think the scenes are enhanced by the right songs, and as bands have definitely had a shift in their feeling about licensing. When I started, it was very tough to sort of convince a band that their song was going to be used respectfully – that it wasn’t going to erode any of their cred – and all that. It was a different time, and album sales were such that it supported in demand, and that’s changed. I think we have so much access to such good music because bands are open to it. And also because the producers use the music so well and with such respect.
So, obviously you know who Gossip Girl is.
Ah, I don’t know as much as you think I do. I do not know who Gossip Girl is.
Are you serious?
Yes, I’m serious.
Haven’t you seen the scenes yet to place the music yet?
I’m kidding, I’m kidding [laughs].
Do you think that the Gossip Girl audience is going to be shocked?
I think it’s a wonderful end to the series.
I’ve been working on the finale now and it’s really bittersweet. The finale is so exciting, and we’re doing a special cover for it. We’ve got some nice things in the works, which I cannot reveal but it’s really, really hard to see it end. It was so fun.
Gossip Girl’s Connor Paolo has revealed his secret hopes the show will have a far from happy ending.
Paolo, who played Eric van der Woodson on the US show until 2011, is rumoured to be making a return for the end of the sixth and final season alongside former castmate Taylor Momsen.
But speaking on the red carpet at Trevor Live in Los Angeles, the 22-year-old refused to confirm his return.
“I can’t,” he said. “There’s someone holding a gun on me right now.”
And asked how he’d like to see the story of a group of super-wealthy Manhattanites tied up, Paolo answered: “Some kind of explosion.”
He added: “That’s the thing I can never understand - you know the TV show is ending, so you don’t have to please the fan base any more, or production. So just kill everybody!”
You’re also the costume designer on Gossip Girl. What will happen to all of the amazing clothes worn by Serena, Blair, Chuck and the rest of the gang when the show comes to an end?
[The wardrobe is] being logged out and sent to Warner Brothers studio. Some of it will be repurposed.
Does that mean we should keep our eye out for Gossip Girl hand-me-downs on The Carrie Diaries?
Maybe. I’m going back and forth with that one, like, ‘Do I want to use that iconic dress from Blair Waldorf here?’ I kind of do in some weird way, so we’ll see! I’m in the process of figuring that out in my head. It’s weird, I’m kind of attached like, ‘Oh that’s my favorite Blair Waldorf dress but it would be really exciting to see on Carrie.’ There is a very big possibility that you’ll see iconic pieces appear in a very different way, a very Carrie way.
Read the whole interview HERE!
Director Norman Buckley had been inhabiting the Upper East Side for the last six years, helming episodes of The CW’sGossip Girl since its first season. He was behind the camera when Nate mistook Jenny for Serena, when Blair and Serena had a tearful tarmac reunion, and when Dan and Serena broke up…the first time. Now with the airing of “Where the Vile Things Are”, Buckley has officially left Gossip Girl’s world of schemes and scandals behind.
BuddyTV was lucky enough to speak exclusively with Buckley through email about “Where the Vile Things Are”, the Dan and Serena reunion, saying goodbye, and his favorite episodes. Most importantly he answers the question everyone is wondering: who would win in a fight, Gossip Girl or ‘A’ from Pretty Little Liars? (OK, maybe I’m the only one wondering about that.)
There were a lot of call-backs in tonight’s episode, especially when it came to the Dan and Serena storyline. Did you look at any of the old episodes as preparation, especially the last elevator scene? Was there anything you did in particular to evoke that feeling of nostalgia from a directing standpoint?
Yes, I did watch the episodes that were referenced in preparation for tonight’s episode. I watched the first date episode, and I watched the episode where Dan and Serena were stuck in the elevator.
I think there is a conscious attempt this season by the writers to reference certain touchstones from the series. The Nelly Yuki and Blair scenes also called back episodes from season two, but most of those were episodes I directed, so I knew them pretty well.
You’ve been with Gossip Girl since the beginning, so what do you think of returning to the Dan and Serena dynamic?
I’ve always felt that the Dan/Serena relationship is one of the primary paradigms of the show. I was glad that I had an episode which had them reflecting on their long relationship and the complications of it.
What was your favorite scene from tonight’s episode? What made it stand out for you?
I really enjoyed the scene between Leighton Meester and Yin Chang on the steps of the Met. I liked shooting there at night. The streets were very empty that particular evening and there was a full moon. I love the dynamic between Blair and Nelly Yuki and thought both of the actresses did a wonderful job.
I also really enjoyed shooting the elevator scenes between Blake [Lively] and Penn [Badgley]. I thought the scenes had a lot of deep feeling and I found them moving.
Art seems to be a subject very close to your heart. What was it like directing such an art-centric episode?
I’m always happy to support the arts in any way I can. The trick in this episode was to make sure we featured all of the artists who were so generous in allowing their work to be featured. I think we got them all in there.
This is the last season of Gossip Girl, which is certainly bittersweet for all of the fans and I’m sure the people on set. What was it like filming your last episode of the show? How did you feel going into your last Gossip Girl episode and what was the atmosphere like on set?
I felt very nostalgic. I did twelve episodes of the show so it has been a big part of my life for the last six years. I’ve essentially watched these kids grow into very fine actors and very fine people, and I consider them all my friends. I grew very close to many members of the crew as well. It was a real family and, while I hope to continue to see many of them, I’ll never see them in that context again and that makes me wistful.
I will always be very grateful to Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz for giving me this great opportunity. It was life-changing in many ways.
You’ve directed some great episodes of the show. For me personally, “The Age of Dissonance” (which was referenced this episode) stands out as an episode that was really terrific and had a lot of layers. What was your personal favorite episode to direct and why? Was it the performances, the experience, the script? What made it stand out to you?
That would also be my favorite episode as well, followed closely by “The Handmaiden’s Tale”. Both episodes were written by my good friend Jessica Queller and I have a particular affinity for her writing. I loved the structure of both scripts, how they looped storylines back into one another, and the way they created odd pairings that we didn’t expect. I love stories of mistaken assumptions—both of these episodes hinged on that idea.
Speaking of “The Age of Dissonance”, Gossip Girl loves it’s allusions to pop culture, historical figures, classic literature, and old movies. What do you think it is about the show that lends itself to these allusions? What’s your favorite Gossip Girl reference?
I always felt that Gossip Girl was updated Edith Wharton at its best, so again “The Age of Dissonance” stands out for me. But I also responded to the many references to Breakfast at Tiffany’s because I feel both that book and movie capture a romantic idea of New York—something that I also feel Gossip Girl did very well.
Every character on the show is great in their own way, but which character do you enjoy the most? And why?
I have said before that I always related most to the character of Dan because, for me, he is the point of access into the world of the show. He grew up in a bohemian Brooklyn environment so, in essence, he is the fish out of water on the Upper East Side, however enmeshed he becomes. I think I relate to him to him because I grew up in Texas, went to New York in my early twenties, hung out with a lot of people on the Upper East Side, and definitely felt like a fish out of water. But, like Dan, I found my way.
Do you know how aware the writers and production team are of the Gossip Girl fans? For instance, jokes like Rufus and his waffle iron seem to be repeated the more it’s picked up by fans. At this point in the show, has it become a bit of a reciprocal relationship where the production team and writers leave little shout outs to the die-hard fans?
The writers have always been definitely aware of the fans, even if the fans don’t always feel they’re being heard.
What do you like most about working on Gossip Girl? Both from the creative side regarding what you like about the show and from the personal side regarding what you like about working with the cast and crew?
I really enjoyed being able to film stories on a large canvas and there is no more exciting city in the world than New York. On the personal side, it was an exciting time for me and my partner Davyd Whaley to be in New York. While I was shooting, he would study at the Art Student’s League and it was during this time that he was encouraged by his mentors there to seriously pursue his career as an artist. His art career has really taken off
I think that traveling to New York on such a frequent basis was a great boon for both of us, in terms of our creativity. We lived a great part of that time at the Essex House and developed many wonderful friendships as well. It gave us an opportunity to reestablish old friendships from earlier parts of both of our lives. It was a grand experience all around.
Gossip Girl has always had terrific music, which is really a hallmark of all the shows Josh Schwartz works on, from The OC to Chuck and Gossip Girl. How much influence do you have over the musical selections for your episodes and how much do musical cues influence how you tackle a particular scene?
Alex Patsavas was the music supervisor on all those shows. She is a dear friend, whose musical taste has influenced my own, as we have worked together since the mid 1990’s. I used to work on feature films, as an editor, and ask Alex to send me CDs of music to inspire me (I originally introduced her to Josh Schwartz). So for the most part, the music selections were her suggestions.
Occasionally, I would find songs that I really responded to and would suggest for the particular episode I was working on: for instance, I suggested the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs song “Kiss Kiss” in “The Handmaiden’s Tale”, the Just Jack song “Embers” in “The Freshmen”, and the Massive Attack song “Paradise Circus” in “Ex-Husbands and Wives”, among others. Sometimes I will hear a song and just know its right for an episode.
But I credit Alex with helping me develop an aesthetic. I have a similar aesthetic with Chris Mollere, who I work with on Pretty Little Liars. These guys inspire me to use music dramatically and I respect very much what they and other music supervisors do—a great music supervisor is worth their weight in gold.
I also think a very large tip of the hat goes to the editors—Tim Good, Rachel Goodlet-Katz, Harry Jierjian, Marc Pattavina, and Brandon Lott. They, week after week, are actually the ones who place and edit the songs into the episodes. Their taste is impeccable, all of them. Tim was the one who decided to use opera at the end of “The Age of Dissonance” which I thought was a brilliant notion, and Rachel turned me onto the band Foxes, whose song “Youth” ended “Salon of the Dead”. I liked Foxes so much that I used another of their songs “Home” on my episode of The Client List, so I owe Rachel for that.
Lightning round! You also work on Pretty Little Liars, which I think owes a bit of its influence to Gossip Girl. In a fight between ‘A’ and Gossip Girl, who do you think would win?
Even though they are both Alloy shows, I see them completely different. The character Gossip Girl is like Truman Capote, witty and caustic. ‘A’ is like the Id, all of the really horrible things you fear about yourself reflected back to you. Gossip Girl is about the exhilaration of romance, and Pretty Little Liars is about the paranoia of romance. So they are actually coming at the idea of romance from two entirely separate points of view. Therefore difficult to compare. But…my money would be on ‘A’.