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Glee – Creator Ryan Murphy

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Glee - Britney Spears, Ryan Murphy and Heather Morris
Glee - Britney Spears (L), Co-Creator/Executive Producer Ryan Murphy (C) and Heather Morris (R) on the set for the "Britney Britney" episode of GLEE airing Tuesday, Sept. 28 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2010 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Adam Rose/FOX

Fox’s new and innovative series, Glee, which comes from Ryan Murphy, the creator of Nip/Tuck, is a one-hour musical comedy.

It that follows an optimistic high school teacher named Will Schuester, (Matthew Morrison of Broadway’s Harispray), as he tries to transform the school’s Glee Club, and inspire a group of ragtag performers to make it to the National competition.

How does this series differ from Nip/Tuck?

 Chris Colfer, Lea Michele, Amber Riley, Corey Monteith, Jenna Ushkowitz © 20th Century Fox Television
Chris Colfer, Lea Michele, Amber Riley, Corey Monteith, Jenna Ushkowitz © 20th Century Fox Television

It’s a very different animal. First of all, it’s a network show. And, for me, the challenge is doing something that I think is more mainstream and family-oriented.

I wanted to do something that was lighter and more optimistic, but it does have a little bit of subversiveness in it.

It’s not completely bland; it has an edge to it, which is what I like about the title.

I always think the title Glee means joyful malice, and I think that’s what the show is about.

Did the success of Disney’s High School Musical influence your show?

Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, Kevin McHale, Amber Riley, Lea Michele © 20th Century Fox Television
Jenna Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer, Kevin McHale, Amber Riley, Lea Michele © 20th Century Fox Television

I don’t think so. We certainly know and respect it, but it is by design, original music; characters just break out into song and dance.

This is really a different approach.

I think this show has much more in common with Juno or Election.

But did its success prove that there was an audience for this kind of material?

Sure. They say the musical is dead, and then here comes Chicago, and it wins the Oscar for Best Picture. I think if the project is done with integrity, joy and respect, people love them.

I think people particularly love them in the economic times that we’re living in now, because it’s pure escapism.

How do you choose the songs for the series each week?

Jenna Ushkowitz, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Lea Michele, Christ Colfer © 20th Century Fox Television
Jenna Ushkowitz, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Lea Michele, Christ Colfer © 20th Century Fox Television

Brad Falchuk, Ian Brennan and I write all the scripts, and each script has a theme. We’re working on an episode right now where the theme is confidence. So we try to pick songs that at least move the story forward with that character having that experience.

The songs are performed either in audition settings or in performance settings.

The other thing it has a lot in common with is American Idol in that it really relies heavily on Top 40 songs that, for the most part, I think the audience knows all the words to.

How did you choose Matthew Morrison for the lead?

Matthew Morrison © 20th Century Fox Television
Matthew Morrison © 20th Century Fox Television

Matthew came in and for his audition did something really charming, which is he sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow with a ukulele. It was very odd and we all thought his character would do that.

Will anyone be singing something like Fame, or is that too on the nose?

No, they won’t. It doesn’t fit the show, it’s not what the show’s about, it’s too inside.

The great thing about the show is that it really has an optimism and innocence, even though it’s done with a wink.