June 11, 2008 / 5:53 AM / 10 years ago

Spinoff could spread "Gossip"

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The makers of “Gossip Girl” are planning a spinoff series set at a girls’ boarding school.

Producers are hoping to expand the popular CW show either by giving co-star Taylor Momsen her own series or by introducing a new character in the fall who is later spun off.

Regardless of which actor is used as the center of the new show, the story would likely draw on the arc of Momsen’s character, Jenny Humphrey, in the “Gossip Girl” book series for inspiration.

Jenny is a self-esteem-challenged outsider who struggles to fit in. In the books, as the result of a series of public embarrassments (such as appearing in a teen magazine wearing next to nothing), Jenny must repeat ninth grade or find a new school. She elects to enter a boarding school and reinvents herself as a popular girl. Her story is told in a series of six “Gossip” spinoff novels called “The It Girl.”

The big question is whether such a project would be picked up by the CW. The network already has two teen dramas set in high school this fall -- “Gossip” and “90210,” a contemporary spinoff of the 1980s Fox series -- as well as “One Tree Hill,” in which the characters recently graduated from high school. Beyond that, despite the devoted following and significant pop-culture buzz that “Gossip” has drawn, its ratings are modest.

Alloy Entertainment owns both book series, co-produces the TV show and has a first-look deal with “Gossip” series co-producer Warner Bros. Television, whose parent, Warner Bros. Entertainment, co-owns the CW. All of which means that the CW has right of first refusal on any “Gossip” spinoff. If refused, Alloy could in theory shop the project to cable networks that target young women, including ABC Family and MTV.

Broadcast scripted series spinoffs are increasingly common; NBC’s “The Office” and Fox’s “Family Guy” will launch new shows next season. Such others as Fox’s “Prison Break” and “House” are at an early stage of spinoff development, similar to “Gossip,” with producers intending to introduce characters for a potential spinoff but without a series commitment.

A CW spokesman declined comment.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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