"Gossip Girl" has been gone for three whole months, my friends, but will return Monday (Mar. 8) in a big way ... with Billy Baldwin -- of "Dirty Sexy Money" (and Baldwin Brother) fame -- as Serena and Eric's long-lost dad.
Korbi TV got in touch with "GG" executive producer Stephanie Savage for the skinny on Baldwin's character, William van der Woodsen, as well as what's going down in these next 10 consecutive -- that's right, 10 in a row -- episodes...
Billy Baldwin. Interesting choice for Serena and Eric's dad. How did his casting come about?
Stephanie Savage: We definitely wanted someone who had a lot of onscreen charisma and who felt like a strong presence that could hold their own with the Van der Woodsens since they're a pretty dazzling family. And we thought there was a good likeness. When you put the four of them on the couch -- Eric and Serena and Lily and William -- they really do look like they could be a family. Also, we loved him in "The Squid and the Whale" and he did great work on "Dirty Sexy Money" so we felt like he'd be a great fit for this world too.
What's the character like? Will the audience love him? Love to hate him?
SS: People will definitely have a strong opinion about William. He causes a lot of drama because his reappearance really [affects] all the characters on the show. Serena and Eric obviously, but it will land on the other kids as well. And there's also a William-Lily-Rufus triangle, because there's a little backstory there with the three of them.
Ah, Rufus and William have history, they knew each other back in the day?
Oh, that's fun. Flashbacks?
SS: [Laughs] No flashbacks. But maybe next year.
Something that's happening this year though: Serena and Nate ... I think. Yes?
SS: Serena and Nate do get together as a couple and it feels really great. It feels like their coupling is really earned and Blake [Lively] and Chace [Crawford] have great onscreen chemistry. That's a very fun and frothy relationship, which is nice because it balances the more emotional Chuck and Blair story as those two work together to solve the mystery of the lady at Bart's grave.
Yes, the lady at Bart's grave. Of course, we all assume she is Chuck's mom. Can you say anything about this?
SS: I can say that nobody knows if it's Chuck's mother except for me, [executive producer] Josh Schwartz, our editor and the sound mixer.
It's interesting to hear that Chuck and Blair have this serious story line coming up, especially given the spoilers about an impending breakup. What can you tell us about their relationship in this second half of the season?
SS: Well, when we come back, they're very much in each other's lives and they have a very emotional story, like I said, where they solve this [multi-episode] mystery that I think audiences will really like. It's very sexy and it's also very [sweet] in terms of them being there for each other and having each other's backs in a pretty great way.
And how about Serena and Nate? Will they have each other's backs? Is this a relationship that could actually last?
SS: It's definitely a big story for us and their coupling [is a long time coming]. In the pilot, the reveal that Serena and Nate had gotten together, it sort of formed the premise of the show -- It established Serena and Blair's status as "frienemies" and explained why Serena went to boarding school in the first place and Nate thinking she came back for him, but then she started dating Dan -- You know, there's a lot of history there, a lot of series mythology and it feels like finally putting these two together has been earned.
How about Dan and Vanessa? They've been friends forever and ever. Now there seems to be something more developing.
SS: Dan and Vanessa are figuring out the fallout from Dan's "I love you." Is that going to drive a wedge in their friendship or will it lead to something more?
With Serena otherwise occupied and Hilary Duff out of the way, we're thinking the door is wide open... unless you've got other big guest stars coming in to stir stuff up.
SS: In the second half of the season, we're really focusing on our core characters. But of course there's Billy Baldwin who we're super excited about. Sebastian Stan is coming back as Carter, Michelle Trachtenberg as Georgina and Wallace Shawn as Blair's stepdad, Cyrus Rhoades. But [that's about it] for guest cast because our core characters have a lot of story.
Can you say what Georgina's role in that story will be?
SS: Georgina is showing up in our finale and, as is always the case when Georgina has gone away, she will be transformed in some way and we'll learn where she's been and what she's been up to.
And how she intends to rock the boat this time, I'm sure. Will Georgina's story line lead us into the following season?
SS: [Laughs] Yes
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