“Glee” to do Britney Spears, Original Music and Religion!
By Fred Topel
HollywoodNews.com: This year Glee did an entire episode of Madonna songs, and a mega mash-up of Journey music. Next year, they have an episode devoted to Beyonce, and a yet to be determined tribute show to air after the Superbowl.
“We like to do those but this year we’re going to do two of them, the Britney Spears one in an unusual way,” series creator Ryan Murphy said at the Television Critics Association fall press tour. “On a red carpet once, someone asked if we were doing it and Matt Morrison said, ‘I hope not.’ The whole episode is him saying, ‘No, we’re not doing Britney Spears.’ We’re going to do one after the Super Bowl, a tribute to a musical artist we’re in negotiation for. I think every year we’ll do two or three.”
Then, they’re even going to do some original music! “We are going to have an original music episode in the second part,” Murphy continued. “The assignment will be for the kids to write their own music. We’re talking to some great songwriters. I hope we’ll have five original songs for that episode. I think it has to be organic. I don’t think you could do it beyond the episode. It would have to be an assignment as opposed to they break out into their own songs. I don’t think you’d understand it. It would have to have more of an architecture behind it.”
The first season of Glee covered a lot of ground. The midseason finale was a show stopping Sectional competition. Then they killed at Regionals, even though corrupt judges had them lose. So that sets the next season back a little. They’ll have to start over and work their way back up.
Still, if they get to Finals next year, that probably takes a year of high school time. So how many Finals can they make it to before some of the characters graduate college? “We haven’t thought about that,” Murphy said. “We obviously have to deal with the cast and the fact that the show will hopefully go many, many years. We’ve sort of mapped out the first four years with our original cast but we have an obligation to be true to the high school experience. I don’t want to do the thing where we wake up five years later and they’re all living in the same complex.”
The first four years of Glee can still take the high school characters through a lot of competitions. “The thing about the show is you do have a set competitions that are true,” Murphy continued. “You have Sectionals, Regionals and Nationals. One year we want to go to Copenhagen or Moscow for the International show choir competition. Beyond that we only have the first four years mapped out.”
Joking, Murphy expressed a devious plan for the popular character played by Heather Morris to stay in high school indefinitely. “One thing that we found out is Brittany, the character we loved, she’s going to be held back every year,” Murphy said.
New grown-up guest stars will join the Glee kids this season. Many come from Broadway. Even the TV stars also come from Broadway. “Cheyenne Jackson, who is a huge Broadway star, is playing the coach of Vocal Adrenaline,” Murphy said. “John Stamos is coming on the show to be Matt Morrison’s rival. He’s been in four Broadway revival. That’s our ideal, the triple threat of actor/singer/dancer. Kristen [Chenoweth] is coming back.”
Guest directors include the Hollywood choreographer and director of Hairspray. “Adam Shankman is gong to do one in the first 10 episodes, someone with a big musical background who I’m friendly with. It’s great for the kids. They love working with people whose work they love in admire. If we can, Joss [Whedon] wants to do another one, as soon as his movie’s wrapped.”
Story-wise, Glee will cover some hot topics. “All of our episodes have a theme. That’s where we jump off at, some more than others. We do love to pay tribute to some artists but they have to be big pop culture artists. The first episode back is called Auditions and it’s about the idea that everybody, even if you’re not in high school, your daily life is an audition. Our third episode, I think our most controversial, is Faith and our kids talking about what it means to them.”
There’s also more going in with the background characters than you may know. Murphy revealed the secret of the glee club’s pianist. “The interesting story about Brad Ellis, he played the piano when we did all the auditions for the kids. He was very cool. We put him in black and I’ve only given him one direction which is, ‘You hate those kids.’ That’s all I’ve said to him, he hasn’t had lines but we have a backstory where he goes home, has voodoo dolls and hates those kids. Go back and see shots of him glaring at those kids. We think he’s a very low paid teacher at the school who’s like a part time helper. He might say, ‘I hate those kids.’ I don’t know, by season eight maybe if we’re so lucky. He’s a lovely guy. He works with the kids a lot. It’s like a family atmosphere.”
Glee returns to Fox this fall.