The sex starts about five minutes into the premiere of Gossip Girl, a new series based on the best-selling young-adult books by Cecily von Ziegesar. Within 20 minutes the characters, privileged Upper East Side private schoolers, are downing martinis at the Palace Hotel.
There is some pot smoking in Central Park, and more sex, at the Campbell Apartment bar, and more pot smoking, en route to Queens. Forget the No. 7 train: this gang travels to the outer boroughs via limo, with bottles of Champagne in hand.
For the teenagers of New York, 10021, the city is a playground of temptation. Created by Josh Schwartz, the 31-year-old wunderkind behind The OC, and his business partner Stephanie Savage, Gossip Girl has already gained buzz as the East Coast version of his former show.
It features an ensemble cast of fresh-faced actors (including Blake Lively as a nicer Marissa Cooper and Penn Badgley as a Seth Cohen type); soapy plot lines (Will Nate dump Blair for Serena? Will Rufus reconnect with Lilly?); a pop- culture soundtrack (Amy Winehouse, Rihanna and Peter Bjorn and John) and teenage tech savvy (they text-message constantly).Narrated by the Gossip Girl, an unseen blogger - voiced by Kristen Bell - who keeps tabs on this scene like an adolescent Gawker, the show has a slight twist on previous nighttime soaps: younger stars, greater wealth and more location shots. The entire series is filmed in New York.
"There's no New York City on TV, or there wasn't when we started making the pilot, except what you could see in the background behind the dead bodies on cop shows," Savage said. "The Sex and the City fun, romantic world" was no longer visible.
And, she added:
"We've never seen the city from the point of view of teenagers. It was very intriguing to see these young people - so sophisticated, so driven, so well traveled - feeling pressured to succeed more than their parents. It felt like a world with high stakes for young people."
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