'Glee' going 'back to basics:' Fewer tribute episodes; spin-off update

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Image Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/FOX

Fox’s programming president Kevin Reilly broke the network’s silence on the controversy that’s erupted over Glee producers giving conflicting statements about the upcoming third season, and whether there’s really a spin-off in the works.

On the controversy: “I was extremely upset to learn about this myself on Twitter — I’m kidding,” Reilly said. “I can laugh about it because it’s taken on more of a heated momentum than it actually is. This show is such an undertaking. As you well know there are many successful shows that have genuine controversy and fighting. That’s not the case with this show. [Creator] Ryan Murphy and his group of associates do a phenomenal job. In the middle of Ryan’s creativity this got out… this was a two-day issue that took on a bigger life. These guys get along incredibly well.”

On the spin-off: “The spin-off was in the wind. We haven’t said we’re not doing it. We talked about it last season. Ryan did talk to all the actors about it. Ryan himself has said he regrets he talked about it. The spin-off will stay in the wind. We collectively decided to revisit it in the back half of the [season] … I don’t even know what it would be.”

On season 3: “I sat down with [executive producer] Brad Falchuk and Ryan and talked about this season’s arc. My two cohorts at Fox were fighting back tears at one point. The season feels so focused this year. It’s a very back to basics year. There’s not going to be any guest stars or tributes. There will be a graduation at the end and three will graduate. There will be surprises about how that will play out. Glee is an incredibly creative enterprise. It’s almost too much of a good thing. We’re going to focus on our core cast.” Pressed by a critic on whether Glee will really have no guest stars or tribute episodes for all of season three, Reilly added, “Initially, there’s not going to be any big guest stars or tribute in the first batch of episodes. And in general, [back to basics] will be the focus for the season. There’s an arc that will drive the year. The competition will be alive and well. You will have the winner for The Glee Project joining at some point down the road.”

On last season: “Anytime you have a show burning that brightly you worry about it stumbling. Last season we had a lot of creativity, lot of success, a lot of ideas were tried. When you hear from the audience, ‘We still love this thing’ — nobody ever said ‘that’s bad’ — but, ‘Give me what I want in its core.’ There were a lot of different ideas we tried. We discovered amazing talent. Others were guest characters that interrupted other storylines. And Ryan agrees to that. A show this creative done 22 episodes, if this were on cable it would be 13 brilliant episodes.”

Read more:
Our open letter to ‘Glee': Less drama off camera, please
Ryan Murphy reveals plans for ‘Glee’ spin-off, which is now on hold
‘Glee’: Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, and Cory Monteith NOT leaving show after third season
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Comments (91 total) Add your comment
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  • Christian

    So you mean to tell me Quinn and Santana were freshmen in season 1? I’m not gonna even include Brittany and Puck since it would be plausible to see them get held back a yr (or in Brittany’s case, 5).

    • Eli

      Yeah this doesn’t make any sense. I thought they were all in the same grade. Oh well, most television shows do this.

      • Captain

        I’m glad their not all in the same grade because that’s unrealistic. If you have a Glee club open to the entire school why would only one grade join? I was in Show Choir in high school and it was populated by all grades , particularly Grade 9s and 12s.

      • Roger

        “Happy Days” forgot there was a Cunningham kid named Chuck. On the pilot of “The Cosby Show,” Claire asks Clif why they have 4 children. A season later, they had 5 — and the 5th wasn’t a new baby. She was in college. You need to toss reality out the window for “Glee.” Who cares what grade the characters are in? The actors all look like they’re in their 30s anyway.

      • Aaron

        Don’t forget about Rosanne and 2 different girls playing the daughter Becky or on Family Matters one of their children just vanished from 1 season to the next and then the mother was recast later on as well.

      • John

        let’s not forgot the “forgotten” teacher played by Molly Shannon… or the fact that Kurt was a spoiled rich kid who wore designer Marc Jacobs clothes and drove an expensive SUV in the beginning… only to be revised to a kid of a working class widower who couldn’t even afford a 3-bedroom house for his new family!

      • Matt

        John does have a point… maybe season 2 was all a dream….

      • Rachel

        That ws funny john. rewatching season one and I thought, how can Kurt afford that jacket?

    • MWeyer

      TV shows do like to play with high school lives to keep the kids in school longer (see 90210). Good point on Brittany and Puck although my personal theory is that Brittany’s parents are actually MENSA level geniuses who can’t accept they produced a total moron so tell themselves her stupidty is just eccentric genius.

      • ruth

        Lol…You’re a genius! I love your comment it really made me laugh.

    • Kevin

      Santana could be, but Quinn was in the running for Junior Prom Queen. Is this being ignored?

      • Kal

        Santana and Lauren were also in the running for Prom Queen. My guess is it will be ignored…Ryan Murphy doesn’t seem to be the most focused show runner around.

      • Cygnus

        Quinn is going to flunk on purpose, because as the show has made her point out more than once, she has no future beyond high school popularity. The producers shouldve jumped on her pregnancy in season 1 making her fail a year.

    • Will

      that would mean that Quinn had her baby when she was either 14 or 15…

      • Blonde South

        Didn’t they actually say her age a couple of times when she was pregnant? It was either 15 or 16. Maybe Quinn will be one of the ones graduating?? And if she is then Finn and Puck should be graduating too. I thought Quinn was in the same grade as Santana and Brittany though. I thought Rachel may be a grade below them. Whatever, this is a mess.

    • Ann

      Right, there is no way Quinn was a freshman when the show began. She was already head Cheerio and queen bee…

      • fsaf

        She was also older than Rachel in Born this way and Santana was older than Finn in the Power of Madonna lol

    • mmmhmmm

      It would be fun if it were revealed that Brittany were about to turn 30.

      • Pogi

        Oh my gosh. I seriously laughed so hard at this! Haha. I don’t know why, but I’d seriously love this.

    • kokko

      Maybe Quinn was just a very young queen bee..

      • kate middleton

        Cheerleader captain as a freshman? Doubtful.

        Pretty hilarious they said no guest stars. I’ll believe that when I see it.

    • Miranda

      Euuwwwww that means Quin got pregnant as a freshman!! age 14-15! :O

      • Latisha

        There are plenty of girls out there getting pregnant at that age anymore, so that one doesn’t really shock me LOL

    • Javadude54

      Brittany has been a senior for 3 years.

    • kendra

      thats depressing hearing that quinn was a FRESHMAN in high school and she got PREGNANT. D:

      • Woot

        If she was, there would be a solid chance she would get an obstetric fistula. Now that would have been an intriguing twist!

      • benny

        It happens. One girl in my high school revealed at ADL meeting that her parents made her get an abortion in eighth grade (middle school in most districts).

  • Eli

    Do they not realize that they had more viewers for tribute/big guest star episodes? Sure they had to many but I can’t see them doing away with all of them. Not all of their guest’s storylines were wrapped. They don’t need to focus so much on a guest in the ep but they don’t have to eliminate them entirely.

    • benny

      Sooooo sick of the guest starts. Paltrow and Rhodes make me want to gouge my eyes out and stick hot pokers in my ears (although I love them off the show)/

  • Shannon

    Why do they say “no guest stars” when Idina Menzel has already been said to be appearing in Season 3 for a multi-episode arc? I’m sure in a couple of days Ryan & the Glee gang will come back and say, “No, just kidding…there are guest stars and tributes in every episode!” :)

    • Cody

      My guess on this is that because Idina has been confirmed for 7+ episodes, that she will fill a more substantial role in the series than a “guest actor” would. I wouldn’t think of Mike O’Malley as a “guest actor”, and he’s not in more than 7ish episodes a year.

    • mejaki

      I think what they mean is that they aren’t going to FOCUS on the guest stars, or base episodes around them, like they did with Gwyneth Paltrow. Not that they won’t have guests at all.

    • KT

      Oh, God, no! Is Idina really coming back? I know she has a lot of fans, but she really annoys me, and the storyline of her being Rachel’s mother was very uncomfortable to watch. I thought she was the absolute worst thing about Season 1, and was happy to see her move on.

      • benny

        I thought Idina was one of the BEST parts about season one. She really was a perfect fit for Rachel’s mom, I just wish they hadn’t revealed it so soon. They should have given us a bit longer getting to know her before they revealed it.

  • Alan carver

    Does anybody care at this point? I mean they say the three are out, then retract that and then say something else, this is just getting more and more ridiculous and at this point it doesn’t even matter because you cannot believe what they say. I am holding out for this PLOT BOMB at the end of the three’s graduation, Sue Sylvester will inform them that the GLEE CLUB does not count as an ‘credited’ class and there-fore means these three are ineligible to leave McKinley High just yet! That is the most plausible answer for them to have to stick around! What other options are there for them not to graduate? Seriously?

    • Maddox

      “Glee” needs to handle this the “Degrassi” way: Each season, they introduce new freshmen and graduate the seniors. The actors stay on the show for 4 years. This system has let “Degrassi” stay on the air in one form or another for decades.

  • Captain

    The biggest problem with the backstage controversy is Ryan. He doesn’t know when to hold back. There are plenty of shows (I’m sure) that are just as scattered behind the scenes but they keep it there. They don’t announce things until they’re certain. Ryan needs to leave the promotion to the cast because atleast they have the fear in them not to overshare.

  • Huh?

    See? No controversy. Some comments were misunderstood. Move along. Nothing to see here, folks.

  • Mike

    I always assumed Finn, Quinn, Santana, Brittany, Mike, Puck, and Rachel were all the same age and gong to be seniors this year. Everyone else, I thought was a year behind them. So, it was a surprise to me that only Finn and Rachel were seniors and Kurt was one too!

    • Mike

      In fact, now that I think about it – and what was planned – I bet Ryan moved Kurt’s age up so that he COULD do a spin-off with Rachel and Kurt going off to NY, even thought the impression all along is that he was younger (and the same age as Blaine and Mercedes).

      • Traci

        Kurt was 16 in Season 1. He drove a big SUV in the early episodes.

  • Kaitlin

    This totally sucks. As a huge fan of Glee, I can’t believe the creators and producers have decided not to have any tribute shows or guest starts this upcoming season. And the decision to graduate three of the show’s favorites is not a bright one. They will be truly missed.

    • Troy Soldier

      The tribute shows were bland, but some of the guests stars were great. Neil Patrick Harris, Gwyneth Paltrow, & Indina Menzel were all cool. Too bad they didn’t have a better story for Carol Burnett as Sue’s mother. That could have been so much better than it was.

  • Hamble

    Seriously? On what *planet* is Puck younger than Kurt?

    • Ari

      I think it would be rather the case of Puck failing his grades and made to repeat a year.

      • Deke

        Mark Salling would probably like to get out of high school and move on with his career. If Puck doesn’t graduate, it’s because they send him back to jail.

  • fenella

    I have conflicting feelings about my favorites Finn and Rachel graduating. I want to see them continuously on Glee because I love them, but at the same time I think it may be good for Lea and Cory’s careers if they move on. Also same for Chris Colfer.

  • Realist

    Too little, too late. And the idea that those three particular characters are the oldest is absurd.

    • Woot

      Ehh I’ll give it 3 or 4 more episodes in season 3. If it sucks I’m out for good. Did the same thing with Heroes. Season 1= amazing (and pretty much the whole season unlike Glee) Season 2= Okay, big decline in quality and Season 3= pretty bad, stopped halfway through. I just love Chris Colfer, Heather Morris, Naya Rivera, Lea Michele and Jane Lynch too much.

  • whit

    Who said anything about ages? Just because you’re 18 doesn’t mean you actually graduate :)

  • MJ

    I just wish the show would focus on something other than the tired Quinn-Finn-Rachel love triangle. I’m bored just talking about it. Also, give someone other than Lea Michele and Cory Montieth a chance to sing. Amber Riley is SERIOUSLY underused, and is ten times better than Cory.

    • CG

      @MJ. I agree, and I’m wondering how they are going to play off a story line they started with Sam and Mercedes now that Choard Overstreet won’t be returning to the show. Will it just be like “Welp Sam moved so I’m alone again” or will there be a long distance thing going? I just don’t understand why Amber Riley gets shoved in the corner all the time. She has an AMAZING voice.

      • Judy

        CG and MJ, thanks! I’ve been wondering about the Sam and Mercedes thing, too. What ever happened to the cute black guy who was eyeing Mercedes in the cafeteria that time? Can he sing? Give Mercedes some love and more of a chance to shine–Amber Riley is AWESOME!!!

      • jmm

        CHord isn’t necessarily not going to be in any episodes, he just wasn’t made a regular – he wasn’t a regular last season either.

      • Blonde South

        I’m guessing that they won’t even mention what happened between Sam and Mercedes. Someone will just comment that Sam moved because his dad got a new job, there will be some over the top happiness about this for about 15 seconds, and then we will never hear about him again.

  • marla

    How MANY times are they going to play the “misunderstood” card? Their problem is that Ryan Murphy can’t keep either his ego in check or his mouth shut.

    • fj

      I agree! I have decided to only read the recaps of the show, rather than watch the show. I am tired of Murphy being a diva with control issues. After he lambasted bands that diss his precious show and this will they or will they not return fiasco, I am done with this show.

  • Bryan

    Okay, let me get this straight. Quinn and Santana are “younger” than Rachel? Negative. Let me remind you all: Quinn said she was 17 in the episode ‘Born This Way’. Santana stated she was OLDER than Finn in Season 1 in the Madonna Episode. Puck should be a senior he looks the oldest out of them all, seriously. RM said that ‘Quinn, Puck, Finn and Rachel’ would be graduating at the time he didn’t mention Kurt. Santana and Quinn also ran for Junior Prom Queen, its going to be hard to forget that considering they made Prom a major arc for Quinn. In Season 1, the writers said Britney had already been held back once. So, she was technically a senior this year, and she will be 20 still in highschool. Nevertheless, she should be graduating because in the finale she told Santana she had one more year to spend with the Glee Club. I believe the only juniors are Artie, Mercedes, Tina and Mike. Does ‘Glee’ actually believe we are that stupid? Out of all the cast members why not retcon Rachel and Kurt who actually look the youngest compared to everyone? Also, Blaine is suppsose to be a senior because in the episode Origonal Song he said he was a Junior Member. This whole thing is just a stupid ploy to get people to stick around after the Big 3 (Rachel, Finn and Kurt) are gone. But I don’t want to stick around for the others especially Quinn who is dreadfully boring. Graduating seems to be a big arc for Gkee this year they need more than 3 people graduating then. Dosen’t matter what Glee says at this point. No Big 3, no Season 4 for me. Also, why are they (RIB) so hesitant about a spinoff, maybe because they won’t have as much control over it as they do Glee.

    • Strepsi

      @ BRYAN: I love your obsessivenss. I picture you writing this comment with a giant montage on your wall, with cut out photos of the characters linked by pins and string, and OLDERRR scrawled in lipstick over the photos. And the photos of Quinn have the eyes cut out of them.

      • Bryan

        Lol, how’d you know?

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