Will the romance between Glee's Finn and Rachel heat up next season? What will be the fate of Will's ex Terri? And which of the show's Emmy-nominated guest stars will be back next season?
Creator-executive producers Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan hinted at what's to come Monday while talking about the challenges of putting the show together at The Paley Center's Inside the Writer's Room event in Beverly Hills. (Full disclosure: The panel was moderated by this reporter.)
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Here are the highlights (and a mild spoiler warning):
April Rhodes will return. Kristin Chenoweth will definitely be back sooner rather than later, according to Murphy, who said they are writing the episode right now. He added that he also wouldn't rule out seeing the musically inclined Shelby (Idina Menzel), Bryan Ryan (Neil Patrick Harris) or Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff) reprise their roles. "We wrote those parts specifically for those people," Murphy said. (Chenoweth and Harris both received Emmy nominations last week for their work.)
Javier Bardem basically talked his way on to the show. When the Spanish actor, who will next be seen in Murphy's Eat, Pray, Love, told Entertainment Weekly that he would be hamming it up as a rock star next season, word spread quickly. But both 20th Century Fox TV, the studio that produces Glee, and executive producer Dante Di Loreto claimed the report wasn't true almost as quickly. Murphy set the record straight: "Javier had downloaded every episode and told me he watched them in a crack binge," Murphy said. "He said, 'I want to come on the show. How about you write me something?' And how do you say no to Javier Bardem? You kind of don't."
The writers knew having Rachel and her mom Shelby sing Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" was a risk. Murphy explained his thought process: "To me, that song was about trying to keep a stiff upper lip and having someone not realize what you're feeling. The more research I did, I found out it was about [Gaga] wanting to be perhaps bisexual and have a guy think she was straight. And then when we recorded it and shot it, there were lines like 'bluffin with my muffin.' So we tried to, uh, skip by some of it. But the lyrical content of that song did not matter to me as much as the idea of those two actresses being so good that they sold the longing, which is what I believed the song was about. I buy that someone like Rachel during Lady Gaga week would want to reinvent 'Poker Face' and that her mother, the teacher of Vocal Adrenaline, would know the words."
Is Glee reaching too far with a Britney-themed episode?
Don't expect Rachel and Finn to go there any time soon, says Murphy. "We are a family show and I don't want the lead actress to jump into bed with the quarterback. I would hope that would take years to accomplish, and I think it will."
Ditto Will and Emma. "We're dealing with a guidance counselor who has extreme OCD issues," Murphy said. "The great television romances, if you look at them, the way to develop the sexual romantic tension, you have to string it out."
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Terri will be back. Haters can pipe down. "The thing about a show like this is you need villains," Murphy said. "We love writing for her, and she's moving to all of us." Falchuk put it another way: "If you look at the reality of what was going on there, it's a woman that's so in love with her husband and sensed she was losing him. She'll do anything to keep this man, anything, including something totally insane and crazy [like faking a pregnancy.] I think in the second season she will be doing the same kind of thing because she loves Will. She wants Will. Crazy as she is, he's the love of her life. ... I think if you look at it like that, she's just a woman in love and in that way she's a little sympathetic." Murphy already has some ideas: "I think what she needs to do is date someone who will make Will pea green with jealousy. We're trying to figure out who that is. It's not the principal, for one. It's a very narrow list of candidates."
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There are two things you need to know about Ryan Murphy, according to Brennan. "He has encyclopedic knowledge of two things. One is what anyone f------ wore to the Oscars at any time. ... The other thing is [music], like he'll know a song was No. 1 for three weeks in 1970. And you're like, 'What?' And he'll be like, 'No, it really was.'... So he just has an ear for what people will like, and I think that's a large part of why the show works."
Heather Morris, who plays Brittany, is a dancer by trade, but once asked her bosses if she should also take acting lessons. "We were like, f--- no," Brennan said. "You're probably the most talented person of your generation. ... It's such a weird gift."
Wanna be on Glee? There's still time! The deadline to audition has been extended to September, so get your tapes in now. The reality show following the journey of the auditioners will air next year on Oxygen. Bonus: If you're going to Comic-Con later this month, you can check out the comeptition. "We're showing a 15-20-minute trailer where you get to see people from across the country try out with their versions of our songs," Murphy said. "When we saw that it was so amazing we wanted to extend the [audition period] a little bit to give people a chance to try out."
Screenwriters, get those spec scripts ready. Up until now, Glee has been written exclusively by Murphy, Falchuk and Brennan, but Murphy told the crowd that come January he would be staffing up. "We've loved working together but you know hopefully the show will go on for many many years, and I think in January, we're going to bring five or six writers on," he said.