EXCLUSIVE: Award-winning director Karena Evans has been tapped to helm the pilot and second episode of HBO Max’s upcoming series Gossip Girl. Based on the popular CW show and bestselling novels by Cecily von Ziegesar, the reimagined drama finds a new generation of New York private school teens being introduced to social surveillance eight years after the original blogger’s website went dark. Production started today in New York for a 2021 premiere on HBO Max.
Produced by Fake Empire and Alloy Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Studios, Gossip Girl is written and executive produced by Joshua Safran of Random Acts. Also executive producing are the original series’ Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage of Fake Empire, and Leslie Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo of Alloy Entertainment. Lis Rowinski of Fake Empire serves as co-executive producer.
“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.”
Toronto-born director and actor Evans has quickly become one of most sought-after talents. She emerged into the spotlight in 2018 for directing several Drake music videos and starring in the award-winning feature Firecrackers. She was honored with the Prism Prize Lipsett Award for her approach to music video art, making her the first woman ever to receive the prestigious award. Other accolades include being named Video Director of The Year at the 2019 BET Awards and the 2018 BET Hip-Hop Awards.
On TV, Evans directed the pilot for Starz’s strip club drama P-Valley, which became a breakout hit for the network, earning a second season renewal. She also directed an episode of FX’s Snowfall. As a filmmaker, Evans is focused on telling diverse, inclusive stories about the human condition.
“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.”
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