Calling all Gleeks – Season 2 of the phenomenally successful Glee, premieres on September 21st. Ryan Murphy, who created the series, won an Emmy Award just over a week ago for Best Director of a Comedy, for the show’s pilot episode.
Last month he spoke with the TV critics about the upcoming season of the most talked about series in years.
Now that the show is a smash hit, are people clamoring and knocking down your doors to get their songs covered by the Glee cast?
Yeah. I got a mix tape from Paul McCartney a couple of weeks ago. It was amazing. I thought I was being punked. It just came out of the blue. It was a package with a handwritten note. It was two CDs and it said, ‘Hi Ryan. I hope you will consider some of these songs for Glee.” And then it said, ‘Paul.’ And I opened it up and I think that it was Michelle and these huge songs.
I’ve heard through our wonderful people at Fox, that Paul is a fan of the show and just admires and loves that it’s about arts education. I was gobsmacked. I grew up with that guy. So, of course, we are going to do something, I don’t think a whole episode, but something with him.
Do any of the groups have any hesitancy that your version of their music might become the definitive version for a whole new generation?
I don’t think so. Early on we had two great champions. We had Beyonce and we had the guys from Journey, who I think got that the show was about arts education and liked the idea that those songs would go to a younger group.
I think our show is an ultimate pop culture fan love letter to all those artists. The great thing that I love is that we do songs that are not popular now. I got a great thrill seeing something from Funny Girl in the iTunes top three. Those originals then rechart, which is an amazing thing for me, because I love all those songs.
What kind of episode is more difficult to put together, one where it’s a theme episode like Lady Gaga or Madonna or where you’re trying to piece together different songs from different eras as part of the story?
I think it is harder when we do tribute episodes, because I know when we did the Madonna episode, I had an idea just for one shot where Rachel and Finn were singing down the hallway to have eight Madonna look-a-likes just walk by and not say anything, just as an homage to her costume changes. All that work for one shot that I really loved I think really drives Lou Eyrich (the show’s costume designer) to the brink.
We’re working out a Britney Spears episode in a really cool way, so before we do that, we do stills of all of her videos and all her public appearances, like we did for Madonna and the Lady Gaga shows, to pull out those iconic looks. I think those are the most hard because people know them, and you have to copy them, and you have to be true to them.
Are there any other Broadway greats coming to the show this season?
I love how we do the casting of the show, because we really do pull from the Broadway community, which I love. Cheyenne Jackson’s coming on this year, who is a great Broadway star. John Stamos is coming on the show to be Matt Morrison’s rival. John has been in four big Broadway musicals, and constantly sends me clips of himself in Cabaret wearing almost nothing, saying, ‘I would like to do this!’
We really do love that triple-threat of actor/singer/dancer. Kristin Chenoweth was big dream. We wrote the role for her, and she’s coming back.
Where is the show going this season?
I think we had such a whirlwind of a year. We didn’t know what we were doing when we started. We were kind of making it up as we went along. But the one thing that really clicked for me is when we went on tour, which was instantly sold out, which was amazing.
All the kids were there, and they would come out, some of them would have two lines (on the series) and they got these huge ovations. They had their mini fan clubs, and I felt instead of going bigger and overstuffing Season 2, which I think people would expect us to do, let’s really dwell on a lot of these supporting characters.
We’re giving all those actors big storylines this year because I think people want to know more about them.
Last year because we came after American Idol in the second half of the season, I personally blew it out. That Madonna episode had nine numbers, which was insane. So we’re scaling back a little bit and concentrating more on the stories, and now I think we’re going to do five or six songs.
Are themed shows going to play a big part in this season?
All of our episodes have a theme. The first episode back is called Auditions, and it’s about the idea that everybody, even if you’re not in high school, your daily life is an audition for something. The third episode, which I think is the most controversial one we’ve ever done, is about faith and has our kids talking about what God means to them.
We’re going to do the Britney Spears themed show. My favorite thing about the Britney Spears thing is Matt Morrison was asked on the red carpet if we were doing it, and he said, ‘Oh, I hope not.’ So now the entire episode is him saying, ‘No, we’re not doing Britney Spears.’