Women's Impact Report: The Producers
When it comes to teenagers’ tastes, “Gossip Girl” scribe and exec producer Stephanie Savage doesn’t profess to be a sociologist, although her series is setting the “it” standard among today’s millennial milieu.
“Girl” follows the saucy exploits of privileged private school students as narrated by mysterious blogger Gossip Girl (Kristen Bell). A rift between two queen bees — flawed but earnest Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively) and wicked Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) — anchors the show, which is based on the bestselling book series by Cecily von Ziegesar.
While “Girl” has seduced the 18-25 femme demo, Savage admits her hipness sensibility is derived from “whatever music or clothing items pique my interest.
“It’s about what’s organic to the characters,” she says. “If our costume designer puts headbands on Blair, it’s from a place of character,” says Savage, “We’re making a magazine show every week and setting the trend.”
Its ratings’ fluctuations aside, off network “Girl” episodes generate a record number of downloads from iTunes. A July 8 New York Times fashion piece exclaimed that a designer’s article appearing on “Girl” translates into sales.
A former VP for both Drew Barrymore’s and McG’s shingles, Savage is one of the rare development execs to segue to screenwriting. While working for McG, she plucked Josh Schwartz from obscurity, giving him a shot to showrun Fox’s soon-to-be hit “The OC.”
The Savage and Schwartz collaboration evolved into her taking on writing duties and ended with her elevation to exec producer on “The OC” in its fourth season. On “Gossip,” Savage steers the show whenever Schwartz is busy with his new skein “Chuck.”
“As we broke scenes down and acted them out, it became clear how smart and creative she was,” Schwartz says.
While Savage confesses that her Calgary childhood couldn’t be farther from the upper-crust adolescents she writes about, she apparently knows what young women want.
“Teens have a sensational narcissism and genuinely believe that their experiences are unique and can’t be explained to adults,” explains Savage. “But we forgive them for their mistakes and naivete. I love writing about young people.”
Role model: “My mom.”
Three things in life I can’t do without: “L.A., New York and Paris.”
What I’m reading now: “Jay McInerney’s ‘Brightness Falls.'”
Most important issue facing Americans in this election year? “Ending the war.”
Fave leisure activity: “What’s leisure?”
Career mantra: “Show up, shut up and shine.”