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Karena Evans to Direct First Two Episodes of HBO Max ‘Gossip Girl’ Reboot

Karena Evans to Direct First Two Episodes of HBO Max ‘Gossip Girl’ Reboot

  • Production on the reboot is underway in New York to meet its new premiere date for 2021.

Toronto-based award-winning director and actor Karena Evans is on board to direct the pilot and second episode of HBO Max’s Gossip Girl reboot. The sequel series is set eight years after the original CW series’ finale, and the story will follow a new cast of New York elite teens.

“Josh Safran has found a perfect partner in Karena to illustrate how the landscape of social media, the upper east side and the world have changed since Gossip Girl premiered 13 years ago,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max. “Additionally, her passion for inclusive storytelling matches Josh’s and we are proud to have her on this journey with us.”

Evans’ approach to directing is centered around telling diverse and inclusive stories about the human condition. She emerged as a new talent to watch after directing several Drake music videos in 2018 that featured a unique approach to music video art, an approach that granted her the honor of becoming the first woman to be award the Prism Prize Lipsett Award. She most recently directed the pilot of Starz’s breakout drama P-Valley and an episode of FX’s Snowfall.

“I couldn’t be more excited for Karena to launch the new series,” said Safran. “Her vision, voice, and passion are incomparable. It’s an honor and a privilege to get to work with her, and I can’t wait for everyone to see what she has planned.”

In late May, the streamer announced that production of the reboot was impacted by the pandemic and would not meet its initial fall 2020 premiere date. Production on the series is now underway in New York as of Monday to meet its 2021 scheduled debut.

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The Gossip Girl reboot will star Emily Alyn Lind (Doctor Sleep), Whitney Peak (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Johnathan Fernandez (Lethal Weapon), Eli Brown (Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists), and Jason Gotay (NY City Center’s revival of Evita) alongside Kristen Bell returning as the narrator.

Original creators and producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are back as executive producers of the new reboot under their banner Fake Empire. The original series based on Cecily von Ziegesar’s bestselling novels aired on The CW for six seasons from 2007 to 2012. Showrunner and series writer Joshua Safran of Random Acts will executive produce together with Leslie Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo of Alloy Entertainment. Fake Empire’s Lis Rowinski will serve as co-executive producer.

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