Glee, the musical comedy about a group of ambitious and talented kids who escape the harsh realities of high school by joining a glee club that helps them find strength in their own voice, returns with new episodes on January 24th. As part of the TCA Press Tour, the press was invited out to the set to talk about what fans can expect from the rest of Season 4 and the direction things might take, in the future.
During the interview, executive producer Dante Di Loreto talked about what’s in store for Valentine’s Day, that more of the characters will be graduating by the end of this season and will continue to go off to different places, figuring out how best to balance and share screen time with so many characters, and how they’d love to do another concert tour, if they could find the time. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Question: Between Glee, The New Normal and American Horror Story, how is everyone managing to continue to function?
DANTE DI LORETO: When this show started, three guys were writing every single episode, and that was a Herculean feat. Since that time, we have grown what I think is one the most talented writers’ rooms, with great seniority and great young people, and it brings a wonderful freshness to the storytelling and makes it possible for Ryan [Murphy] and Brad [Falchuk] to do multiple projects. Ryan’s mind is very facile. I think he rises to the challenge that’s in front of him. Being able to work on three very distinctly different shows is what makes it possible.
There were decades without music on TV and this show really revived the heart of the musical. Were you surprised at how receptive people were to that?
DI LORETO: I don’t think television shows change the world. I think that what we do is put the spotlight on certain pieces of the world. People have been singing and dancing forever, it just wasn’t on television. There was a point where you couldn’t be a performer unless you could sing and dance. We just put the spotlight back on that. The people who felt that in their heart, and the people who had those abilities but no way to express it, couldn’t suddenly see, in that spotlight, that there was a place for them. I think that’s what we do. We’re a television show. What Ryan likes to do is put the spotlight on things that everyone is thinking, but nobody is talking about, and that’s what this show did.
How do you feel about the GLAAD Media Award nominations that just came out?
DI LORETO: We’re incredibly honored and excited, as we were with the People’s Choice Award for the cast. Anytime we get recognized, it’s exciting. And the wonderful thing about the show is that we’re in the entertainment business and all we’re hoping to do is make people laugh, smile and feel something in their heart for 42 minutes, once a week. This show touched a nerve with a lot of people. Without being a show about particular issues, it made it okay to be who you are and to be an outsider. It made it okay to sing and dance. It made it okay to join your choir. It made it okay to do a lot of things, and it did it in a way that really was door-opening. We knew it in our heart, that this is how people behave. To be recognized for it is great, and also to recognize that it’s changed people’s perceptions about the arts and about identity is really important to us.
What’s in store for Valentine’s Day?
DI LORETO: I think it’s fair to say that there is romance in the air. There is a wedding in the air. What is exciting about this show is that there are certain things about it that are undeniable. There are certain things that you could sit at home and think, “I really want this to happen.” There are also some things that are going to shock the heck out of you, and that’s the really fun part. That’s what’s coming down the pike.
How long is Dean Geyer (who plays NYADA upperclassman Brody Weston) going to be on the show?
DI LORETO: We hope to keep him around for awhile. We think he’s incredibly sexy. He sings and dances well. I think it’s a really interesting storyline. I think the show has blossomed creatively this year, being able to travel back and forth between New York and Lima. And we love having him here.
One of the stories that has unfolded this season has been Finn (Cory Monteith) finding himself. Will there be more of that, and will he actually get to become a teacher, eventually?
DI LORETO: In terms of the actual steps of it, revealing what that challenge is like, to be a teacher, was really important to that storyline. I think that romance is going to play a part in his future, too. Where that takes us has yet to be determined.
With more of the characters being seniors this year, will you be writing towards those graduations?
DI LORETO: I think the show has established that it does reflect real life and that people’s lives move on. We found a way to capture that and to tell continuing stories. I think that creates an opportunity for the writers to say, “What is the next step in this character’s story and evolution?” I think we’ve demonstrated that we can do that, and that we can expand the stories of the characters who are already here, as well as create opportunities for new characters.
Will everyone who graduates from this high school go to New York, or will there be a third location?
DI LORETO: Look, I wouldn’t be surprised if another cast member or a few other cast members go to New York. That story is yet to reveal itself, but it seems one of those natural conclusions. But, they’re all going in different places. Just like we all do after high school, they’re going to different places, and hopefully those are stories that we can blossom. We have to produce this show within the confines of a primetime network, so there are limitations to the stories we can tell. It’s frustrating because we all hear from the fans who are saying, “I want more of this character’s story,” and every single performer here has the ability to carry their own show, but they’re having to share screen time with a lot of talented people. That’s a challenge. We have to find a way to do that and still make a 42-minute show.
DI LORETO: I don’t have any big teaser reveal, although we’re constantly getting calls from performers who have great musical abilities and are looking for a place to explore it, which is fantastic. But ultimately, it’s got to fit the story. I think the reason those two performers work so well was because they were right people for the role. Hopefully, if we did it right, and it seemed that way to me, it feels very, very organic and you get invested in the character more than the individual personality.
Do you feel proud that about the fact that the success of Glee has paved the way for other musical shows, like Smash and Nashville?
DI LORETO: Yeah, I was surprised there weren’t more sooner. I was really surprised. As those shows will tell you, it’s incredibly challenging to produce a musical in primetime TV, based on the schedule, the budgets and the restrictions of the storytelling. The number of musical numbers that we’ve done is staggering. We’ve learned a lot about the process. All of the skill level has come from our extraordinary crew and this cast. It’s so difficult to do, and I think that’s why there isn’t more of it. There’s certainly a taste for it from the audience, and it’s wonderful to see those other shows succeed.
Will you be doing a concert tour again?
DI LORETO: It’s a good idea. We had an amazing time doing the last tour, and I think we would all love the opportunity to do it again. It’s really about finding time to fit it into our lives. Watching 14,000 people scream and yell, at the top of their lungs, for this cast is one of the most beautiful moments. And seeing how diverse our audience is, which was the really startling point, actually exceed people’s expectations. What the cast did, night after night, was a thrilling experience.
Glee airs on Thursday nights on Fox.