'Glee': On the set for the Super Bowl episode's huge 'Thriller' performance -- EXCLUSIVE

GLEE-THRILLERImage Credit: Patrick Ecclesine/FoxEW was the only magazine on set for Glee‘s huge Super Bowl episode (talk about a touchdown!) and now we can give you Gleeks an exclusive peek at New Directions’ biggest performance to date: an epic mash-up of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll.” Read below for all the zombie-filled details…

It’s game time on the set of Fox’s hit Glee. The cast and crew (along with hundreds of extras and a live marching band) have gathered on a chilly January evening at a Long Beach, Calif., high school football field to shoot the final performance piece for their gigantic Feb. 6 episode, slated to air directly after the Super Bowl. But seeing as this is Glee, the action on the field is not a quarterback blitz but, more appropriately, an elaborate song-and-dance number choreographed to a thrilling mash-up of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll.” (The performance takes place during halftime of the episode’s pivotal football championship game.) In an homage to Jackson’s video, the New Directions kids are covered in gruesome zombie makeup (think gaping wounds, protruding bones and jaws, and other things Joe Theismann would identify with) while they jerk and crawl across the fog-covered football field. But beyond that, viewers can expect a whole new version of the Jackson classic. “You can never re-create something as incredible as ‘Thriller,’ and I don’t think we’re trying to,” says star Lea Michele (who plays Rachel). “We’re making it our own.” Adds Cory Monteith (Finn), barely recognizable in his monster garb in between takes: “This is up there with the Rocky Horror, Madonna, and Britney episodes, because there’s so much production going into it.”

In terms of budget and ratings, the episode (which is sponsored by General Motors) is actually guaranteed to be Glee’s biggest hour yet. Co-creator Ryan Murphy notes that this is the show’s most expensive outing to date, with a price tag in the $3–5 million range. Making the massive production even trickier was a nasty flu virus that struck several cast members in December, forcing filming of the “Thriller” number to be postponed for four weeks. “I was battling,” says Kevin McHale, who plays Artie and sings lead on the song. “I was like, I have to sing it. I don’t ask for anything. I don’t have to sing for the rest of the season — I just have to sing ‘Thriller.’ And I recorded it sick with, like, a 102[-degree] fever.” Even the rescheduled January shoot had a close call: Mike O’Malley, who plays Kurt’s father, leaned into a space heater and burned a hole in his down vest, sending feathers floating through the cold California air (“Mike O’Malley caught on fire,” Murphy deadpans shortly after).

For more exclusive details from the set of Glee‘s Super Bowl episode, as well as scoop on the second half of season two, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands today.

Comments (54 total) Add your comment
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  • dirk

    As a football fan, I will not be sticking around to watch this. Should have went with Simpsons or Family Guy. Fox is going to lose the male viewers….

    • RP

      Why not give it a try, Dirk? My husband is a die hard Bears fan, but he finds Glee funny. It’s not his first choice, but football wasn’t mine either. Turns out you may like stuff you don’t think you will.

    • baxter928

      what a stupid comment!!!

      • matt

        oh baxter, someone needs to punt you off a bridge again.

      • ann

        haha. snarf, snarf. thanks for the giggle Matt!

    • Sam

      I love football and I am a total Glee fan. I think it’s kind of narrow-minded to say you can’t like both. That’s kind of an old mentality, Dirk.

      • Jenn

        Very good point Sam.

      • Breesy

        Agreed. Heck, I saw an interview with last year’s MVP quarterback, Drew Brees and he admitted that he enjoys watching Glee with his wife. A great football player, husband and a citizen of the community and a real man enjoys the show…..

    • Bluto

      Ugh, can we not escape the abomination known as “Glee?”

      Oh, how cute! They are going to “Glee-up” something and make it SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING AND CULTURALLY RELEVANT NOW! It’s like watching a teen version of “Kidz Bop,” or whatever the hell it’s called.

      The idea alone gives me gleearrhea.

      • Anna

        Chillax Bluto. You don’t have to watch…and you don’t have to read about it.

    • Jules

      For someone who says “should have went” the Glee humor is probably well over your head and educational level anyway.

      • Wane

        Yeah… You need kindergarten education for this pile of crap show…GO STEELERS!

    • Lisa L

      Dirk, try it. I hear there are cheerleaders in blue wigs with flaming boobs!

    • Kevin

      O my god. You’re so manly!

    • Gigi

      Okay, one thing, Glee is on after the Superbowl,so you can still watch the football game, and not have to watch what comes on after the game. It might actually bring in more viewers, and it’s the first time the superbowl has been on Fox for a while.

    • annie

      mj had the best videos of all time, best selling album of all time, best concerts, best dancer, best looking dude, best singer, he had it all, and all this greatness was hidden from us on purpose, why why why, jealous bunch

    • Alex

      What, are men to wimpish to release their feminine side while watching “Glee.” Yes, indeed they are, what a stereotypical society we live in today.

  • rob

    I’m kinda the reverse of what they are looking for in terms of ratings. Glee might cause me to watch the Superbowl.

  • LOL

    No one cares.

    • Bob


  • KMcT

    Right, Dirk…Simpsons or Family Guy, because only boys watch football and boys only like fart jokes. I’m a HUGE football fan and Glee fan. Clearly, you’re still stuck in the “boys do boy things and girls do girl things” phase of your life. Good luck with that.

  • Monty

    So…the football players leave the locker room to perform during halftime? I guess this makes more sense than a dance sequence before a field goal…

    • Dan

      At one local school here in Ohio, there were members of the football team and the cheerleaders where were also in marching band, and they would still perform at halftime.

      • FarAway

        My high school did that too.

  • Serious Gleeky Bears Fan

    Go Bears and Go Glee! I’m there!

    • Ray

      woooooohoooooo!!! could not agree more!

  • John Berggren

    Glee will definitely get me to watch the latter part of the superbowl. I only wish I could program my DVR to detect the end of the game and the start of the episode.

    • Lorie

      Same here. The game better not go into overtime.

  • ashley

    ugh, i’m getting so sick of this show i used to love so much. the writing and the breaking of constantly of all the couples and rampant inter dating is such a huge turn off.

  • pfunkatl2

    I am a HUGE football fan…reigning fantasy champion, and a MAJOR GLEEK as well!

  • Rusty Shackelford

    Gee, how original

  • Rebecca

    Re: Joe Theismann

    Too soon, EW. Too soon.

  • RedLobster


  • tootiewise

    I HATE football and I find “Glee” to be fairly mediocre. I’ll not be watching either. BLAH!!!

  • Sarah Kramer

    “This is up there with the Rocky Horror, Madonna, and Britney episodes, because there’s so much production going into it.”

    In other words underwhelming?

    • skm

      Unfortunately that is very true about the over-rated Britanny Rocky Horror episodes. I did like the Madonna episode(that was last season But I hope the numbers are epic since they are hyped up so much. The pictures seem really good. I am looking forward to the musical numbers.

  • Marianne

    I THOUGHT SO! I remember seeing set pics of them dressed as zombies, and I couldn’t help but think of Thriller.

    • Edy

      I don’t get why people read articles about something only to say “it sucks/I won’t watch it/it’s s***”, just don’t read about or watch the shows. It’s useless picking up fight or insulting a damn tv show.

      Having said that, I can’t wait to see this. I love horror movies, “Thriller” is one of my favourite songs ever, and I seriously cannot wait above all after having watched the pics from the set! It’s going to be Epic and Awesome!

    • anya

      I can’t wait to see Thriller be mashed up with Heads Will Roll because I can actually see it working. I love Heads Will Roll but never expected Glee to cover it.

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