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“We knew we needed the show,” Ostroff (currently president of Condé Nast Entertainment) said. You have to really hit something that’s in the zeitgeist, or really going to matter to people in a way that becomes an emotional connection.
And it was even more difficult for us, because we were going after a younger, more finicky audience.”It was a perfect storm: a buzzy property, a hot creative team, and a new network.
Eighteen years old at the time, she had just appeared in a small independent film and come to a crushing conclusion: “I realized that [acting] was a business as much as a craft,” she told me more than a decade after the fact, while on the West Coast, where her husband, Ryan Reynolds, was about to start shooting a prime-time soap opera about beautiful, articulate, sun-kissed teenagers living in Orange County, was wrapping up its four-year run.
The show had arrived on the scene with a tidal wave of buzz, its actors almost immediately splashed on magazine covers and pushed out onto red carpets; but after burning through plot at a rapid pace (its leading lady, Mischa Barton, saw her character get killed off somewhat unceremoniously in the third season), the show sputtered to a close, ending with a truncated final season.
Meanwhile, a new television network, the CW, was simultaneously in the midst of a delicate birthing process.
Formed by the union of the WB and UPN, the new network—led by then President of Entertainment Dawn Ostroff—was searching for an identity.
But the premise of the series—an anonymous blogger, who goes by “Gossip Girl,” monitors the goings-on of a small group of glamorous Upper East Side high-schoolers—predicted, to an almost eerie extent, what was to come for our culture.
The notion of a group of people being callously gossiped about online by an anonymous troll certainly has resonance in our current climate, in which celebrities (as well as politicians and public figures) are often blogged about with a blithe and biting disregard.
The blonde Tarzana, California, native—who, one imagines, leaves a trail of sunflower emojis and the scent of cupcake icing in her wake wherever she goes—had had enough.Your life will go back to normal and you can start going to school. I’ll do this.’”When I asked Lively if that arrangement ended up working out (even though I already knew the answer), she responded, laughing: “This is advice to anyone: when they say, ‘We promise, but we can’t put it in writing,’ there’s a reason they can’t put it in writing.” She added, “But no, the show didn’t slow down.