Penn Badgley, Leighton Meester and Hugo Becker
Here's what Gossip Girl executive producer Josh Safran doesn't — and won't — talk about when it comes to the show's fifth season: the identity of who is pregnant, a possible second glimpse of Oscar-nominated director David O. Russell (so impressed by Serena's knowledge of The Beautiful and Damned he handed her a summer job), Ivy, the whereabouts of the real Charlie (and if it even matters), the fall-out from Dan's Upper East Side-bashing book, Georgina, gone-but-angry outcast Vanessa ...
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Fortunately, some of those cliff-hangers will immediately be dealt with when Gossip Girl returns (Monday, 8/7c, CW). TVGuide.com instead got Safran's thoughts about why Blair has become the show's most interesting character (by far), what makes this season more fun than last (even if it didn't begin in Paris) and why Serena could wind up being the best movie producer ever:
At the end of last season, you said Dan (Penn Badgley) and Blair (Leighton Meester) were totally not over.
Josh Safran: I stand by that statement.
So there's Chuck (Ed Westwick) and the Prince (Hugo Becker) and Dan — Blair will be choosing among three guys?
Safran: Blair is not choosing. Blair has chosen her guy. But as you saw in the season finale, Dan still has feelings for Blair. And Chuck and Blair have a complicated relationship — and I use that term meaning in the way people relate to each other, not relationship as in romantic relationship. They have a connection that is always there. It's definitely a very unique ... square?
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Blair is definitely the most interesting person on the show right now.
Safran: I'm sure this has been on TV before, but as far as we're concerned it hasn't (laughs), but we're very excited by the many different sides to Blair. It's like Chuck said at the end of the last season's finale: there are great loves and there are right loves. The heart is endless, it doesn't just get filled up once and that's it. Each of the men fulfill different needs in Blair, and one of the things she struggles with this season is trying to find who fills up the most, the most you might need to build a life with.
For now, Blair's busy planning her royal wedding, right? What kind of extravagance can we expect that?
Safran: A lot of the writers are married, so it's been fun to delve back into, like, when you did the cake-tasting -- imagine if it's the cake-tasting for a future princess. And it's Gossip Girl so even if it had just been a "standard wedding"... even at Lily (Kelly Rutherford) and Rufus' (Matthew Settle) wedding, you know, Sonic Youth played. So imagine our royal wedding.
Would you say Blair one-ups William and Kate?
Safran: It's not a stated goal, but of course we would love for the wedding to look as lovely as that. It's just that on network television 2011 it's unlikely. We hope it rivals that — they're definitely going to have a huge beautiful Monegasque wedding.
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You've called this upcoming fifth season lighter and a lot more fun. Were you looking for a change from last year?
Safran: Well, the Juliet (Katie Cassidy) story was twisty and dark and it was based on revenge and the wrongs of the past, and last season began with Chuck having been shot and what happened to him, the sadness of Blair over the Chuck and Jenny (Taylor Momsen) thing ... We were coming into the season with a lot of darkness and reaching to the light from there ... we just saw this season as like: OK, let's open with Los Angeles, land of sun and breezes and all that stuff.
And how did filming in L.A. compare to Paris?
Safran: I mean, nothing compares to shooting in Paris! Shooting in Los Angeles is incredible — the crews are great, the cast was great, the locations are beautiful. But Paris is Paris. When we pick back up, Serena (Blake Lively) has a place she's living in L.A. and the boys have a yacht. And you'll hear just how they got that yacht in the premiere. But as far as Los Angeles, it's definitely the Gossip Girl version of it. We're on a backlot, you see the ocean — but not from a Malibu beach house because that's Entourage's L.A., that's not our L.A. We were looking for very mid-century modern houses, Neutras, that kind of sleek, sexy, glamorous L.A. Like, if we could have shot at the Chateau, we would have.
Serena didn't like being a personal publicist. Now it looks as though she's landed a job she likes in Hollywood. Good choice for her?
Safran: I do think Serena's skills as someone who's the center of attention and who brings people together and who, you know, wears a shoe and suddenly everyone wants that shoe, I believe, yes, Hollywood is probably a pretty good place for her. Especially being on the side of film that she is — not acting, but behind the scenes on a producer-type track, someone who can put things and people and projects together.
Also in L.A. is Elizabeth Hurley's character, Diana Payne, a media mogul with a keen interest in Gossip Girl. We already know she'll hook up with Nate (Chace Crawford), but why is she interested in this website?
Safran: Anyone who comes from media in New York City is very aware of Gossip Girl as a major media presence and Diana pretty much wants to be at the top of the media game. She sees Gossip Girl as a way of that.
What about Dan's novel (Upper East Side tell-all)? How big is the fall-out going to be?
Safran: That story actually will unfold pretty slowly — slowly for Gossip Girl anyways — so it won't be immediate but it will have reverberations throughout the whole season.
Let me ask another way: Is anyone happy about his book being published?
Safran: Definitely there are a wide range of reactions positive to negative.