Following the announcement that Glee will return to production next month, many fans voiced concerns that this didn't allow for a proper mourning period. But Murphy explains it was a unanimous decision by Glee's cast and crew, including Monteith's girlfriend Lea Michele.
"We will begin shooting in late August the two shows we had already written, so that people can physically go back to work," Murphy told Deadline. "We will then do an episode that will deal with the death of Finn's character and follow that with a long hiatus. I don't know exactly when we will come back, and we are trying our best with this attempt at damage control. We are planning a memorial for the cast and crew sometime this week on the Paramount lot."
The tribute episode to Monteith will be written by Murphy and co-creators Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, and Michele will serve as a creative consultant. "For many of the people we work with who are very young, and also for the fans of the show, this is probably the first time they have experienced death, and that was not lost on any of us here," Murphy said. "I understand that everyone has their own way of processing grief. Every possible option was explored, and what we did was look to the people who loved Cory, who worked with him most, and specifically Lea. This is what they wanted to do."
Fox let Murphy decide how to proceed in the wake of Monteith's death and in no way pressured the quick return to set. "We were left with the decision, what do you do? Do you... shut down the show? Come back in December and January? We considered every option, and decided to do what the cast and crew felt best," Murphy said. "They wanted to be back on the set, where there is a sense of security, and where they can grieve together and talk about him. When that happens, we will have grief counselors for the first two weeks to help everyone through it. ...Will we have a truncated season? I just don't know yet. Lea blessed every decision. I told her even I don't know what to do. I don't know how to write about the death of someone I love. She wanted people to be together. She and Cory were the young leads of that show. Lea has been a leader all through this difficult process."
Monteith, who died due to a toxic mixture of alcohol and heroin,completed his latest rehab stint last spring. Murphy admitted it was hard to watch someone so close struggle with substance abuse. "It is so very sad and tragic," Murphy said. "Cory wasn't just an actor on one of my shows. He was very important to me, and I was very invested in his sobriety. When I heard what was happening to him, I organized an intervention and got him into rehab last March. We socialized and we also fought, because while he was a lovely sweet guy, he was also a leader on the set, a strong personality and the only analogy I can think of is that he felt like an older son to me. ... It was a tough and very emotional day and the last thing he said before he left was, 'I want to get better.' And I believed him."
While the showrunner had originally envisioned a fifth season that had a strong focus on Monteith's character Finn, he's hoping that the revised season has the potential to help others avoid a similar tragedy. "One of the most gratifying things aboutGlee is that when the show is at its best, it has helped young people and given them information about the human condition that moves and informs them," Murphy said. "What we've been talking about in the writer's room is that maybe the way we deal with this tragedy might save the life of someone."