Friday’s (July 19) announcement from FOX that production on “Glee” would be delayed until August in the wake of the star Cory Monteith‘s tragic and sudden death prompted only more questions about how the show planned to handle its return. (The premiere of Season 5 has been pushed a week, to Sept. 26.)
Creator Ryan Murphy has broken his silence about Monteith’s passing, speaking with TVLine about initial plans for moving forward. Notable amongst Murphy’s words? How instrumental Monteith’s real-life girlfriend Lea Michele was in providing a way forward.
On the one-week delay: “Well, it’s such uncharted waters for me, personally. We had several options. We could delay shooting until November, we could delay shooting until January. But, ultimately, what we decided to do for the cast and crew was start shooting with something that we had already had written. We had written two Beatles episodes in May and had been working on that tribute for four years. We just decided that it would probably be the best for everybody to get back together and be working and have grief counselors on set for two weeks, which we’re going to do. But, ultimately, we made no decisions without consulting Lea. [Executive producer] Brad Falchuk and I talked to Lea and really asked her what she wanted to do. We laid out every possible option. And she was very adamant that she thought it was best for the cast and crew to get back together sooner [rather] than later so that mortgages could be paid and people could take care of their families. Cory was so beloved that she felt people really needed to be together in this time. So we sort of followed her lead.”
On whether Finn’s absence will be addressed in the first two episodes back: “I don’t think so. We were supposed to be on in the fall with four episodes, and that’s just not going to happen. So we’re going to go on the air with two episodes and right now we’re writing the third episode, which deals with Finn’s death – which, you can imagine, is a very difficult episode to write. [It] has to be done very carefully and with a lot of taste and really making sure that it’s a tribute to Cory. Then, who knows? Maybe we’ll wait to shoot that. We really have to see how everybody feels… We’re going to take a long writers’ hiatus after that episode to refigure the season and continue to take care of the cast and crew and work on setting things up in Cory’s honor – scholarships, what have you – because that’s something we’re dedicated to doing. It’s just a crazy, really difficult, very emotional time. I think what we’re really trying to do is deal with it as a family, which is what that group of people is. Lea is obviously very grief-stricken but she’s also one of the strongest people I know. She wants people to be better and get back to work. So that’s what we’re going to do.”
On how he and Michele took action to get Monteith back into rehab: “It’s just a very tragic thing. It’s been a very difficult thing for all of us, including Lea, to love someone who is an addict. It’s something all of us have been dealing with for many months. It’s a disease and, unfortunately, the disease flared up. As soon as we found out, we staged an intervention with Cory that Lea was 100 percent running out of love and trying to get him better, saying, “Look. Don’t worry about your job; you will always have a job. Don’t worry about fear. Don’t worry about shame. Just worry about getting better and getting stronger…” He was like a son to me… He was both very loving and very sweet and also very stubborn. I really expected him to fight me. He wanted to finish those last two episodes of [Season 4], and that’s when we found out about the addiction flaring up again and I said, “F-k no. We’re writing you out of these episodes. Your life is more important than any stupid TV show. You’re not going to film. You’re going to get in a car right now and get help that I and Brad and Lea have arranged.” I thought he was going to fight me. He said, instead, “OK, I’m so glad it’s over.” He embraced it and went without a fight and got in a car and went to rehab”
On how Monteith was doing after rehab and how Michele’s been integral in putting plans together in the wake of his passing: “All early reports were that he was doing really well. I spoke to him, and he was really grateful. Lea was very instrumental in trying to save his life and get him the help that he needed and I think for everyone, including myself and her, it’s just a shock. It happened so quickly and without warning, as it often does for many people… She’s also been a rock for many people as well. I’ve never, ever met a 26-year-old girl or boy who’s capable of doing what she’s done in the past week. I marvel at it. I really have taken – as we all have – our lead from Lea. We won’t do anything that she doesn’t want to do. We’re planning a memorial service this week for the cast and crew and people at Fox, everybody who loved him. She’s been planning that and making decisions.”