(Warning: This post contains spoilers through Episode 10 of Season 1 of HBO Max’s “Gossip Girl.”)
HBO Max’s “Gossip Girl” brought over several characters from the original CW series on Episode 10, including Blair Waldorf’s (Leighton Meester) widely beloved housekeeper (and actual BFF) Dorota (played by Zuzanna Szadkowski).
Dorota’s surprise appearance came during an installment packed with cameos, as it featured a Hanukkah dinner at the home of Cyrus Rose (Wallace Shawn) and Blair’s mother, Eleanor (Margaret Colin). Among those in attendance were Dorota, who is no longer a housekeeper for the family, her husband Vanya (Aaron Schwartz), who used to work as the van der Woodsen’s doorman, and their two young children, Anna and Leo, who were both babies when the six-season run of the first “Gossip Girl” ended.
“I loved that so much. I knew I wanted to do that from way back when I first pitched the show, I knew Dorota had to be in it,” HBO Max’s “Gossip Girl” creator Joshua Safran told TheWrap of the guest spot in Episode 10, which launched along with Episodes 11 and 12, the final two of Gossip Girl” Season 1, on Thursday. “Like, there was just no way without Zuzanna [Szadkowski]. And I remember DM-ing Zuzanna being like, ‘Don’t worry, you’ve got to come back.’ And Zuzanna was like, ‘Happily!’ And then Hanukkah, because we were doing all the holidays, was a no-brainer. And then it just fell into place, having Cyrus be Gideon’s entertainment lawyer makes total sense.”
The episode, titled “Final Cancellation,” brings the old and new “Gossip Girl” characters together, with Max (Thomas Doherty) and his father Gideon (Todd Almond) being invited to Hanukkah dinner at the Roses’, and Audrey (Emily Alyn Lind) begging Max to bring her and her mother Kiki (Laura Benanti) along, so that Kiki can get an in with fashion mogul Eleanor.
“Just getting everybody together was so great. We shot that over a few days. Sadly, the Waldorf set was struck at the end of the first series and to rebuild it would have cost — because it was a standing set — to rebuild it would have cost as much money as one of our standing sets, which is too much (laughs),” Safran, who was a writer and producer on the original “Gossip Girl,” said. “We don’t have the money to do that, to build a set for one episode of that magnitude. So I had to come up with sort of this construction of why they were in Brooklyn Heights, which ends up being one of my favorite gags in the entire series.”
The joke ends up being that Cyrus and Eleanor have been living out of his late mother’s (entirely tasteless, as Eleanor puts it) place for the past two years, while renovations on the Upper East Side Waldorf penthouse are underway.
“It was just a joy to have them and they just fell right back into it. Margaret was so game to learn Yiddish, because we had to get her recordings of Yiddish to say all of this Yiddish stuff. And then my favorite thing was, it was a very rare occurrence where there were not many Jews on set. Because Wallace Shawn is not Jewish. Cyrus is Jewish, but Wallace is not. And Todd Almond and Thomas — who played Gideon and Max — are also not Jewish. So there were really no Jews there. So what ended up happening was April Blair, who is my co-EP, myself, and my assistant, knew the prayer. So we had to sing the prayer and teach it to the entire room. And that was one of my favorite experiences that have ever appeared on ‘Gossip Girl,’ that we were right off camera singing the prayer so that they can kind of follow our lead. It was really fun.”
Another particularly enjoyable bit for Safran was writing the personalities for Dorota and Vanya’s children.
“To have Anna, the daughter who you met in the first ‘Gossip Girl’ now grownup, and have her be like a little bit more of a Blair than a Dorota, was a fun little thing to do. As you saw with Milo Sparks (the son of original ‘Gossip Girl’ character Georgina Sparks, played by Michelle Trachtenberg) earlier this season, bringing these characters back who were babies, and now like meeting them as young adults is really fun. I hope to have them back. They had a blast. It was so wonderful to be in that room with those people again. It’s just so incredible. And then our cast loved it.”
OK, so by this point you’re probably wondering where Blair was this whole episode, rather than spending Hanukkah with her mother and dear stepfather. Well, if you were listening closely, Eleanor dropped a line about her daughter being in Paris over the past year. And Safran confirms that, yes, Blair is there with her now-husband Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) and their son Henry, whom you see in a flash-forward in the series finale of the original “Gossip Girl.”
“I kind of felt like, where would Blair be? And of course she’s going to be in Paris!” Safran said.
Check back with TheWrap for our post-mortem interview with Safran about the “Gossip Girl” Season 1 finale on Friday.