''Gossip Girl,'' and Jesse McCartney were in the news this week

By EW Staff
Updated January 02, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST
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Blair’s Enemy Thinks She’s a Total B
They’re rarely seen in class, but the teens of Gossip Girl are finally getting a teacher — a hot, very young-looking one. On Jan. 19, Laura Breckenridge (Related) joins the CW series for three episodes as Rachel Carr, an Iowa native who lands her first big job schooling Gossip‘s kids in English. While she mentors both Blake Lively‘s Serena and Penn Badgley‘s Dan (whose relationship with the new teacher draws jealousy from his ex), Rachel is the one who learns a little lesson in Upper East Side bitchery after she gives Yale-obsessed Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) a — gasp! — B. ”Blair thinks she can kind of use her typical powers of persuasion, but Ms. Carr has a lot of integrity and does not go down without a fight, which only escalates the stakes,” says executive producer Stephanie Savage. She adds that the story line will lead into an important arc for TV’s most competitive private-schoolers. ”We’re ramping into the part of the season where everyone is going to find out where they’re getting into college and we’re setting them up for next year.” + Casting is almost complete on Boardwalk Empire, a provocative new drama pilot from exec producers Martin Scorsese, Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, and Terence Winter. Based on the book by Nelson Johnson, the potential HBO series follows the emergence of Atlantic City in the 1920s. Michael Pitt (Funny Games) is in final negotiations to star opposite Steve Buscemi (The Sopranos) and Kelly Macdonald (No Country for Old Men). Scorsese will likely direct the pilot, too. — Tim Stack and Lynette Rice

Color-Blind Casting
Hard to believe baby-faced singer Jesse McCartney could cause an uproar of any kind. But news that the 21-year-old would take on the role of the evil prince Zuko in director M. Night Shyamalan‘s The Last Airbender, his big-screen adaptation of the popular Nickelodeon series, has sent fans into a tizzy. Their beef: Asian and Inuit cultures permeate the series, yet none of the film’s four leads (McCartney, Twilight‘s Jackson Rathbone, Nicola Peltz, and newcomer Noah Ringer) are of Asian descent. EW.com’s Dec. 9 original report generated nearly 850 predominantly negative comments, and a letter-writing campaign directed at producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) has begun. Paramount declined comment, other than to say that casting isn’t complete. + Will Arnett says he’s ready to reunite with his former costars for the Arrested Development movie. ”I can’t wait to strap that fake hand back on — wait, which guy did I play?” says the actor. (For the uninitiated, he was the highly incompetent illusionist Gob — not Buster, the brother with the prosthetic hand.) ”It’ll be fun to get back together with everyone and work on it.” — Nicole Sperling and Dan Snierson

Episode Recaps

Gossip Girl

Spotted: Serena, Dan, Blair, Chuck, Vanessa, and Nate — hooking up, breaking up, and freaking out. You know you love it! Xoxo!
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