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Answering for antics of `Gossip Girl'

July 23, 2007|Kate Aurthur

The "Gossip Girl" panel on Friday afternoon at the Beverly Hilton got a little surly when television critics asked the executive producers to justify the underage drinking and (attempted) date-raping in its pilot.

Josh Schwartz, creator of "The O.C." and an executive producer of "Gossip Girl," fielded the inevitable what-will-you-say-to-the-parents question.

"We take the message the show is sending incredibly seriously," Schwartz said. "These are flawed characters."

And, he continued, "the world isn't nearly as depraved as it appears to be."

The glitzy and buzzed-about new CW series is based on the immensely popular young adult novels of the same name by Cecily von Ziegesar. In the books, New York City private school kids drink, do drugs and have sex. And they read the Gossip Girl blog, which chronicles their sordid lives.

(For the series, the unseen blogger serves as the show's narrator, and is voiced by "Veronica Mars" herself, Kristen Bell. Will we ever see her? "We want to never say never," Schwartz said. "But certainly not for a while.")

Back to the smut issue. After the morality question was asked in several different ways, Schwartz said, "I don't want to be hitting the same point, but I do feel as if we're not presenting this as a perfect world."

He added, "As long as we continue to portray this world responsibly but realistically, we think the show should have a teenage audience."

Schwartz and fellow executive producer Stephanie Savage (also late of "The O.C.") stressed that the show will be about relationships -- among kids and their parents, brothers and sisters, and friends.

Can it reach a broad young audience? Or will it appeal only to the same tony set it depicts?

Schwartz said, "I think there are emotional truths to being a teenager, regardless of where you live or how you live."

And, as Savage pointed out, "if the only people who watch this show are kids who grow up on the Upper East Side or go to private schools, we're not going to do very well."


-- Kate Aurthur

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