Inside TV+Movies with Daniel Fienberg

TCA Set Visit Highlights: 'Glee'

Ryan Murphy and company talk Jennifer Lopez, summer tour and more...

<p>Jane Lynch of 'Glee'</p>

Jane Lynch of 'Glee'

Credit: FOX

Because I like to complain (part and parcel of being a critic, I suppose), I could detail the arduousness of a day with six set visits on three studio lots in the middle of a torrential downpour of Biblical proportions. But any day you get to sit in the McKinley High School choir room listening to Lea Michele and Amber Riley sing is probably complaint-proof.

Millions of "Glee" fans would certainly agree.

That's where the Television Critics Association found itself late Monday (Jan. 18) afternoon, on uncomfortable chairs on a Paramount lot stage, listening to Riley singing "Don't Make Me Over" (a number cut from an episode earlier this season) and Michele reprising her show-stopping take on "Maybe This Time." The assembled reporters were duly impressed, but the more surprising thing is how, even after more than half a season of production and a summer tour, the members of the cast still appear love watching each other perform. The smiles and enthusiasm from all of the stars and supporting players were utterly genuine, an authenticity that has carried over in the show.

Still glowing after their big Golden Globe win on Sunday, Ryan Murphy and the "Glee" cast fielded questions for a half-hour. Highlights are after the break.

[Click through...]

"Glee" Set Visit Highlights:

Ryan Murphy on a possible Jennifer Lopez guest appearance: "I'm meeting with Jennifer. She's a fan of the show and I'm a fan of hers so we're going to have dinner , and talk about it. I would love for her to play a really great cafeteria lady who Kurt makes over into like a Susan Boyle sensation or something.

Chris Colfer on his favorite Golden Globes star moment: "I have a really good story. Sandra Bullock told me that she made her husband Jesse James watch the 'Single Ladies' episode and the image of her making her tatted husband sit down and watch 'Single Ladies' kills me."

Murphy on introducing younger fans to a wide variety of music: "[I]t's very sort of personal. I mean what you just heard today-- when I was growing up 'Cabaret' was one of my favorite movies. That's why that song is in here. Burt Bacharach was one of my idols.That's why this song is in there. I mean, they're very, they're very personal choices to me and that's why I've put them in, and I think that's why they've connected. And you know the great thrill for us is that when you air a show and you see our version of 'Maybe This Time,' a song from 'Cabaret,' a 1972 movie, in the top 10 of iTunes that to me says a whole group of kids who have never seen that movie are rediscovering it. And I also love when we do a song, 9 times out of 10 the original artist will, when, when Mark did 'Sweet Caroline' and Neal Diamond Twittered about it, the next day 'Sweet Caroline' entered the charts, which it had not done in like 25 years. So, that's just amazing. I mean, this show more than anything is just a tribute to artists that we love and pay homage to, and the fact that people are sometimes-- I think young people in particular -- discovering this person, people, for the first time, that's really thrilling and unexpected."

Jane Lynch on Sue Sylvester, the cheerleading coach audiences love to hate: "It's always very nice, no one has ever been mean to me. That would be mean. I think its liberating for people to see someone so mean. Because she is so extremely mean that she's almost—it's as if she had a moustache she'd be twirling it. People love that. It's like what we wish we could do in moments in our life but social propriety says we shouldn't and Sue does not have that filter and people get a big kick out of that."

Murphy on finding the balance of the show and how things will change in the second half of the season: "I mean I feel like a scripted musical hadn't been done on television or worked in so long so there was nothing to go by and the show is not... as we shall say 'cheap.' I felt the thing about the show that we listen very closely to is what fans say about the show. Fans like certain things, don't like certain things and I am somebody who reads those blogs... I like knowing. That doesn't mean that's what I'm going to do but I do…you know, I was interested about different characters that I thought the audience would love. Numbers they didn't like, so we think about that. Last year it was odd that some episodes would have two musical numbers and some would have six so I think in this season so far it's one number an act minimum. That is sort of what we are trying to write for but with a mixture of all different kinds of stuff."

Jenna Ushkowitz on whether there's a healthy competition within the cast: "Sure, I wouldn't say competition, I would say they push us and challenge us. Absolutely, it's a positive thing that we support each other and love each other so much and we are so dynamic and different in every single way that I don't think we could compete against each other. It is healthy though, a nice push."

Murphy on the somewhat lip-synching of musical numbers over recorded tracks: "I hear a lot about that. We have done a couple live numbers on the show, but for the most part the show is about a very specific idea, which is that when you are this age – in high school – your life is a fantasy. It's a theatrical fantasia; when you walk down the hallway you feel like you're in the spotlight. That's your world. The device of the show was always a little bit heightened and little bit theatrical. And of course they lip-synch... that's what you do in musicals. That's what Gene Kelly did when he shot 'Singing in the Rain.' That's the convention of a musical: it's breaking into song. We have a couple rules on the show whereas, for the most part, we do it either in the choir room, or the auditorium, or sometimes in a fantasy. But I don't know what to say about that other than our show has it's own rules. And I look at the music sales with great pride. What you watch is what your hear which is what people seem to be buying."

Murphy on the filmed talent search for three new "Glee" castmembers, set to air as a special before the second season premiere: "The interesting thing about that process that they don't know is that when we have the finalist for these parts we are going to bring them in and screen test with our group of people here. There is a very certain level of chemistry that you can't just throw somebody in. And I want to know what they think of the top three contenders for these parts. The whole thing about this show, this show from day one has been different so it keeps on being different."

Murphy on plans for another tour: "We are doing a tour. We're touring. I can't say more about it, but there's going to be an announcement in the next couple weeks, about dates and where we're touring, but these guys are going to be busy little beavers. We finish shooting in April and we're gonna do a very select sort of small summer tour."


"Glee" returns to FOX on April 13.

Dan-feinberg-sm
Daniel Fienberg
Executive Editor
A long-time member of the TCA Board and a longer-time blogger of "American Idol," Dan Fienberg writes about TV, except for when he writes about movies or sometimes writes about the Red Sox. But never music. He would sound stupid talking about music.
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