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XOXO: Canada’s Karena Evans to direct first two episodes of ‘Gossip Girl’ reboot

TORONTO — Canadian director-actor Karena Evans is set to helm the first two episodes of a “Gossip Girl” reboot.

HBO Max says the Toronto-raised talent will direct the pilot and second episode of the upcoming series, which is set to launch sometime next year. 

The show is based on novels by Cecily von Ziegesar and the original CW series, which ran from 2007 to 2012.

Kristen Bell narrated the original version, as an anonymous gossip blogger who wrote about wealthy teens at a private school in New York and signed off each episode with: “XOXO, Gossip Girl.”

HBO Max says the new version will also feature Manhattan’s teenage upper crust, but this time they face “social surveillance eight years after the original blogger’s website went dark.”

Evans is known for directing several music videos for Toronto rapper Drake, among other artists, and also starring in the acclaimed 2018 Canadian film “Firecrackers” by Jasmin Mozaffari.

She’s won trophies for her music-video direction at the BET Awards, the BET Hip-Hop Awards, and the Much Music Video Awards.

In 2018 she also became the first woman to ever receive the Prism Prize Lipsett Award.

Evans also directed the premiere episode of the new Starz drama “P-Valley” and also an episode of FX’s “Snowfall.”

The new “Gossip Girl” is produced by Fake Empire and Alloy Entertainment, in association with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Television Studios.

“I couldn’t be more excited for Karena to launch the new series,” head writer and executive producer Joshua Safran said in a statement.

“Her vision, voice, and passion are incomparable. It’s an honour and a privilege to get to work with her, and I can’t wait for everyone to see what she has planned.”

Sarah Aubrey, head of original content at HBO Max, said both Evans and Safran share a passion for inclusive storytelling.

“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,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2020.

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

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