Wallace Shawn and Other Conceivable Ways to Class Up Gossip GirlIn yesterday's New York Times profile of playwright and actor Wallace Shawn, an executive producer for Gossip Girl, the teen soap that Shawn is guesting on for a spate of episodes, said that the diminutive chrome-dome brings to the series a level of smarts and sophistication that "that was way beyond [the writers].” He's referring, we guess, to Shawn's artsy intellectual pedigree—he's the celebrated writer and star of plays and films like My Dinner With Andre and the son of legendary New Yorker editor William Shawn. And we agree! Seeing Shawn on the occasionally sharp but mostly silly series is like a breath of fresh Bordeaux-scented air. It got us thinking about some other ways that Gossip Girl can fancy itself up, which we'll list after the jump.
Wallace Shawn and Other Conceivable Ways to Class Up Gossip GirlActually Go Inside That Museum They're Always Sitting In Front Of The bitchy queen bees of the fictional Constance Billard school are always sitting on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art before school and during lunch, but never going in to look at the pretty pictures! It would be fun to see them actually go into the Upper East Side landmark, maybe in fun we're-trapped-in-a-museum-overnight plotline. Blair could regale us with her knowledge of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, while Erik gazes longingly at various Greek sculptures.
Wallace Shawn and Other Conceivable Ways to Class Up Gossip GirlVanessa Redgrave as Grandma Bass Bring in the world's classiest lady to blow a cool British wind over these proceedings. Once papa Bart kicks the bucket, Vanessa will show up as his estranged mother. With her son gone, she'll see it as her duty to teach her lothario grandson Chuck how to "be a man." Basically she'll make him do cold, cruel things and she'll laugh dimly and sip her sherry for a few episodes before he finally tells her off and realizes that being nice is better than being mean (don't worry, it won't last long.) She'll jet back to London and that will be that.
Wallace Shawn and Other Conceivable Ways to Class Up Gossip GirlA Musical Episode Without Pop Tunes Lots of shows do musical episodes, like the terrific Buffy singfest, so why not Gossip Girl? But to really go for that tony New York elitism they'd so like to cultivate, may we suggest hiring an outsider to write the score. How about Phillip Glass's little pixieish protege wunderkind Nico Muhly? Or maybe the brash and discordant musical theatre composer Michael John LaChiusa? Everyone could warble in strange harmonies while ambient sounds played and they danced lilting Merce Cunningham choreography and Joan Acocella would lift her head from her newspaper and look at the TV and smile slightly. Talk about classy!