'Glee' producers clarify graduation controversy backstage at Comic-Con
What did Ryan Murphy say and what did he mean?
I'll lay the groundwork for you quickly:
Nearly two weeks ago, The Hollywood Reporter ran an interview with "Glee" co-creator Ryan Murphy saying that stars Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Cory Monteith wouldn't be returning for the show's forth season. While it had been common knowledge that a large percentage of the "Glee" cast would be graduating, no producer had yet gone on the record to say which stars specifically would be graduating and what their ongoing future with the show would be.
In the interview, Murphy repeatedly and clearly said that Michele, Colfer and Monteith won't be back, which set off a firestorm online with reactions ranging from outrage to "Of course they won't be back, why is this news?"
On Sunday (July 24) morning at San Diego's Comic-Con, the "Glee" producers didn't have to wait long to be asked about the reported departures. And with Murphy absent, co-creator Brad Falchuk minced no words.
"I don't know where that reporter got that information," he said. After more questioning of the original report, Falchuk added, "Just because they're graduating doesn't mean they're leaving the show."
The reporter in question, a respected reporter from a respected industry trade publication, got the information from a lengthy interview with Murphy, an interview that was posted as a full transcript, a transcript in which the reporter asks Murphy to clarify, on multiple occasions, that the three actors in question won't be back next season. The complete transcript of the interview and the lengthy quotes in the original story were pretty clear and unequivocal. That left the "Glee" producers with the choice of either clarifying Murphy's words in front of 5000-plus fans, or throwing a reporter under the bus. Falchuk took the latter approach.
This caused me to head back to the "Glee" pressroom to try getting a little additional information.
[More after the break...]
If you've read me or follow me on Twitter, you know that the "I was taken out of context" epidemic is one that often frustrates me.
Two years ago, there was the incident in which Chloe Sevigny had harsh words for "Big Love" in an interview with The Onion's AV Club and promptly rushed to another reporter claiming she'd been taken out of context. The AV Club promptly posted the audio of the interview, which had been transcribed verbatim. [Here's what I wrote at the time.]
Early this year, Charlie Hunnam expressed a minor disapproval with a creative aspect on "Sons of Anarchy" and Hunnam accused the reporter of taking the quote out of context and Kurt Sutter went online and called the reporter ungentlemanly names. The reporter posted the audio from the interview, which had been transcribed verbatim.
Falchuk didn't claim Ryan Murphy had been taken out of context in The Hollywood Reporter, he claimed that there was no way of understanding how the reporter would have gotten the information in the story.
Read the transcript. See if you come away with an understanding.
For what it's worth, I understand why Sutter came to the defense of Hunnam, why the "Big Love" producers later basically accused The AV Club of getting Sevigny drunk at a party, why Falchuk chose to malign the credibility of a reporter rather than maligning the credibility of his peer. You stand by your own.
And that instinct to protect a colleague is probably why I made sure to ask Falchuk in the "Glee" press room why he made the choice he made in front of 5000+ fans.
"When it happened, Ryan said, 'I didn't say that' and that's what I know," he said.
Pressed a bit more, Falchuk expanded on his answer.
"What I said was, I think that's wrong, because Ryan told me he didn't say that. That's what I said," Falchuk explained. "I'm sure that if you look back, maybe in more words, but that's what I said, was that that's not what Ryan said. And the reason why I was confused as to why it would be reported that way is because it's just not true. Since March, we have been discussing with Cory, Lea and Chris, specifically, what the plans for the future are. That they're all graduating. We told them very clearly, 'You're all graduating, but we have plans for the future.' So for Ryan to say 'At the end of the season they're done' made no sense to me. And then when he told me he didn't say it, that's why I felt comfortable saying that, because I knew the actual... no matter what he said, I knew the facts, which is that it doesn't make any sense. It'd be like saying that Lea is not on the show next year. I know that Lea's on the show next year. So it wouldn't make any sense, so I felt comfortable saying that... I didn't want to impeach her in any way and say that she's wrong, but I know the facts and that Ryan told me it's not what he said."
I'll leave you to parse that. And don't worry, I have the audio.
The other producers at Comic-Con shied from additional explanation or clarification.
"I don't have a clue. I wasn't there. I don't know what was said or what wasn't said," Dante di Loreto said. "All I can say definitively is we have talked for quite some time that people are going to graduate, so that was a non-story. I think the story sort of became 'They're graduating and they're leaving the show' and that's never been anyone's intent, because you obviously have incredible talented performers, you've got a successful show, you want to keep people involved with the show. That's all I know definitively is that yes, people are graduating. We don't necessarily know who each of them are. We're certainly not talking about who each of them are and we know that just because you graduate doesn't mean you leave your hometown."
Ian Brennan, the show's third co-creator, said, "I was just commenting to Dante that I don't know anything about that story. The only thing I know is that the end of the story is just because the character's graduating doesn't mean they're leaving the show. They're graduating McKinley. That doesn't mean we lose them. That's all that has ever been tried to be communicated out there. I don't know the details of it all."
The post-panel clarifications, as you can see, are different from the in-panel "I don't know where that reporter got that information," opting to clarify, rather than pillory.
The bottom line is that yes, Lea Michelle, Chris Colfer and Cory Monteith will be back on "Glee" for Season 4. Falchuk's exact word was "Absolutely," though even that got a little clarification later.
"Right now we're really focused on what this season is and we'll probably get into that soon enough," Falchuk said. "The plan is to... Look, I say 'The plan is to...' Our plan is to keep them around and to have them around. And like I said, we've been talking about it with them for a very long time and so we will continue to do that. I don't know what's going to come of it. I don't want to say, 'I guarantee you they're coming back,' because look, they might come up and they might decide they don't want to come back. Anything could happen. But our idea is to keep them around because we love them all. They're all incredibly talented."
Of the semi-transitional feeling, Brennan said, "You can already tell in the scripts we've written, there's just sorta a sense of melancholy, which is really nice. It has a different, I think and you never tell until it airs, but I think this third season will just have a flavor that will actually seem different and it's unexpected and not even necessarily deliberate, even. But it's gonna be good."
I'm sure fans will be excited about this news and grateful to have the Emmy nominees and Monteith back. But make no mistake on where the reporter at The Hollywood Reporter got the information that suggested otherwise.
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