'Glee's' Ryan Murphy says Lea Michele & co-stars were talking spin-off... but not anymore!

colfer-monteith-michele.jpgIn case you haven't been playing along at home, here's how the "Glee" saga has played out over hiatus. Executive producer Ryan Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter that three of his lead actors - Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, and Chris Colfer - would be graduating and leaving the show at the end of the season. He clarified that Michele, Monteith, and Colfer would not return for Season 4. Murphy also told the magazine that he had not yet discussed these plans with Monteith.

As these core three characters have six-year "Glee" contracts, the media was surprised to hear that the contracts would, as we understood, be terminated at just four years. It's a rare move in the TV industry to release such a large number of stars from their contracts early.

As it appeared, it was a surprise to the actors as well. Colfer told Access Hollywood that he learned he would be axed via Twitter. "Yesterday on Twitter... Yeah, I found out that they made that announcement. I didn't necessarily know that it was going to be our last season next year, I knew something like that was coming up eventually. I mean, we can't be there forever...I don't necessarily want to leave so soon, but I mean, it's fine. It's what it is. And all things come to an end."

Fans, as is to be expected, were not exactly pleased. After Chord Overstreet wasn't made a series regular (and declined to return as a guest star), canning more fan favorites wasn't a popular choice.

Then, things turned around. At Comic-Con last weekend, executive producer Brad Falchuk told fans in a panel discussion that The Hollywood Reporter misquoted Ryan Murphy.

"Because they're graduating doesn't mean they're leaving the show. If you have Lea Michele under contract, you don't say, 'We're gonna let you go.' It was never our plan or our intention to let them go. They are not done with the show after this season," he said.

ryan-murphy.jpgNow, Murphy has changed his tune yet again. He tells Deadline that a post-graduation spin-off was in the works for the characters, and that Colfer, Michele, Monteith, and Naya Rivera had been involved in the discussions. "When I say they're seniors and they're not coming back to the show, what I did not say is they're not coming back to the show because there will be another show," he says.

He also says that Colfer wasn't being honest when he claimed he'd learned of his firing via Twitter. "All of us, the studio, the network, were like, 'OK, that isn't exactly cool,' because we involved all three of them in that decision," he says, adding, "I think that I can say on behalf on Brad and myself that if [Colfer, Monteith, and Michele] tried to spin it that they were under the thumb of the evil showrunners who were trying to manipulate them, I say, 'Well, I'm sorry about that. They know that's not true.'"

As a result of the he-said she-said in the media, Murphy says, they've postponed discussions about the spin-off and may revisit the idea in April. "We were actively talking to actors, we were actively writing, we were actively getting ready to pitch," he says. "'OK, here's the three actors, and they want to do it, so here's the story for them.' Now that that has collapsed. We're not talking about it, we're not pitching it. We're not doing anything for the next several months except for this third season. I would prefer and I know Brad would prefer and I think the actors will prefer to roll up our sleeves and do a really good season and if there is a spin-off, talk about it in April."

If your head is spinning, you're not alone. We're having trouble keeping up with it all, too. It sounds to us like Murphy wanted the best of both worlds. He wanted to promote his show by giving the media half the story -- the intriguing, scandalous, "lead actors are getting fired!" side -- without mentioning the part where it actually wasn't that shocking, because they were headed for an NYC-based sitcom.

The half-truths led to more half-truths, and ultimately misinformation was reported.

"I think that the media has glommed on to this idea that we were graduating them and firing them and bringing in like 'Glee Project' kids," Murphy says.

As the "glomming" media, we're thinking that Murphy might make it easier on us by getting the story straight internally before going to the press. "Glee" is a beloved show featuring talented actors. Murphy doesn't need to sensationalize behind-the-scenes drama by mentioning that he hasn't informed a lead actor of plans for him when, as Murphy now claims, he's actually kept Monteith "involved in the process for 3 to 4 months to the point where we were even talking about cities and relocations."

It's unfortunate that the spin-off has been put on hold, because we wouldn't mind seeing our favorite characters exploring a new city. Hopefully, when talks resume in April, those involved will wait to give interviews about the project until details are firm. Making announcements and promises before plans are official isn't fair to the media that ends up inadvertently reporting false information, but more importantly, it's not fair to the fans who invest their time (and their iTunes dollars) in the show.
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