By Meryl Gottlieb| email@example.com| @buzzlightmeryl
Glee will return to Fox on September 26 at 9 p.m.
The show will go on.
Glee creator Ryan Murphy spoke Saturday in an interview with E! Online’s Kristin Dos Santos about the plans for the show’s fifth season and how the cast and crew will handle returning to work after the passing of star Cory Monteith.
Monteith, 31, was found dead July 13 in the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver. The actor died from mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol. Monteith had been open about his history of struggling with abuse and completed a rehabilitation program in April.
The participation in the program in April came after the cast and crew learned he was using again back in March. Murphy said they staged an intervention in his office and told Monteith that filming did not matter until he got better.
“He wanted to continue working and we said, ‘That’s not an option. No. The TV show doesn’t matter, your life matters,’” Murphy said. “His last words to me were, ‘I want to get better,’ and I always felt and continue to feel even in his death that he did, that he really wanted to fight it and he was humiliated and shamed. We reassured him that the only thing that mattered was him getting better and his job was 100 percent protected because he thought he was going to get fired. … We were all rooting for him … I feel like we did everything that we could and I know that Lea (Michele) feels she did everything that she could.”
Season five of Glee will premiere September 26, only one week after the originally planned airdate. The first two episodes will be the already written, long awaited Beatles tribute episodes, which will need some slight tweaking. The third episode will feature a tribute to Monteith.
“The right thing to do for the show, at least at this point, is to have the character pass,” Murphy said in USA TODAY. “When we do the tribute… we’ll have to do it in a way where the castmembers will not have to re-create feelings of grief that they’ve had this week — but do it in an upbeat way.”
Murphy said Monteith’s co-star and girlfriend Lea Michele made the decision to not have a longer delay and no decision has been or will be made without her approval.
“Do we go off the air permanently?” Murphy said. “Do we go off the air until November? … The thing we ultimately found was that our cast and crew wanted to be together, they wanted to go back to work; they wanted to sort of be in a place where they could all remember and discuss Cory sooner than later. … What we just decided to do is continue on working for the next month so people could really deal with this and not feel isolated and alone. That’s something Lea felt strongly about… We followed her lead.”
“If Lea had said to me, ‘I could never do this again and I don’t want to do this again,’ … she is sort of the show … And I would’ve, out of respect to her as a person, said ‘OK,’ but that’s not how Lea operates,” Murphy continued. “She’s handled this with so much humanity and grace and she’s also handled this in a way where she’s trying to look out for 500 other people affected by him and who have mortgages to pay and families to feed.”
“I’ve never met any 26-year-old person stronger than Lea,” Murphy added. “Ultimately, everyone involved made the decision, ‘OK, what does Lea want to do, what would Lea feel comfortable doing?’ This is what she wants to do.”
A grief counselor will be on set for two weeks.
Before Murphy and the other writers can even begin to tweak the first two episodes and come up with a way to tribute the actor, they are planning a memorial for Monteith this week.
After the third episode, Murphy said the show will go on an extended hiatus in order for the writers to figure out the future of the show because the fifth season was largely catering to Monteith’s request to work more.
“We had a conversation when he was craving to be sober… and I said, ‘I don’t know how you want to handle work’ … He said, ‘I really want to work a lot. … I want to be with people who are good influences.’ Our entire season was at Cory’s bequest, keeping him busy and active.”
At the end of the interview, Murphy shared a behind-the-scenes moment during the filming of the first episode back in 2009.
“He was the first person on camera (for filming the pilot), and it was a very nerve-wracking time… because a musical had never worked,” Murphy said. “I remember after the first take, he finished his thing and came up to me and leaned down to me and said, ‘This is going to be fun.’ And I think that’s the way he was on the show, on the set; he was a real leader.”
I don’t see a problem with not addressing Monteith’s death in the first two episodes. They already completed ignored his absence in the last two episodes of season four. I am very interested as to how they will say Monteith’s character Finn died. He was going to school to become a teacher and returned to McKinley to be treated as a man alongside Will (Matthew Morrison) and co-coach the glee club. I’m hoping they don’t dare try to parallel fiction with reality and have Finn die of drug-related causes because that is preposterous. And I’m wondering how they will respectfully honor Monteith in a more “upbeat way” as Murphy said. I wouldn’t want to watch an hour of the cast crying either but I don’t understand how they can mourn Monteith/ Finn in an upbeat way. I guess we will find out in two months.