Mischa Barton by Tyler Coleman/WireImage.com Mischa Barton by Tyler Coleman/WireImage.com
Mischa Barton's about to find out that there

is such a thing as bad publicity. Shortly after I posted

my story on Friday about Gossip Girl courting Barton for a juicy arc, her reps began issuing blanket denials to various media outlets, insisting that, although their client was indeed approached by the show, she turned the gig down. There's just one problem: She didn't. Turn them down, that is. At least not formally. Reliable sources close to the CW phenom tell me that the recent statements made by Barton's camp took Gossip execs Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz by surprise since, as far as they were concerned, Barton was still in the running to play schemer Georgina Sparks. That begs an obvious question: If Barton had indeed opted not to participate in Gossip, why would her camp tell the press before informing the very folks who extended her the offer - particularly when one of those folks is her former O.C. boss? For publicity, theorizes one insider, who believes Barton's peeps - desperate to get their client's name in a headline that didn't include the letters "DUI" - likely leaked the Gossip offer to remind the public of what an in-demand actress she is. "They leaked it as publicly as they could, and then turned around and passed on it as publicly as they could," whispers my spy. "Real classy, huh?" One thing can be said for Barton: at least she's consistent - particularly when alienating Schwartz. Two years ago, on the eve of her character's death on The O.C., the loose-lipped former model spoiled the big twist when she "accidentally" told a reporter that Marissa was going to die the day before the episode aired. At the time, Schwartz described the slip of the tongue as "unfortunate." We're left to wonder how Schwartz might describe Barton's latest indiscretion since my e-mails to him seeking comment have, thus far, gone unreturned. Meanwhile, Barton's spokesperson declined to comment, save for this statement: "Mischa will not be appearing on Gossip Girl. She is on a press tour for the film which she stars in, Closing the Ring, directed by Sir Richard Attenborough."