I mentioned this on Twitter a few days ago, but I thought I would write a small announcement here. It is time for me to retire GleeHab. The thought of it is so bittersweet but it’s time to move on. I still adore Glee and I always will – but my life is requiring a lot more of my attention these days and it is time for me to focus on my family and my day job.
It all started when I was on bedrest with my second daughter. I tuned in to the pilot and it was love from there on out. I decided to take my obsession to the interwebs and had absolutely no idea it would turn into what it has become. I have had the chance to do some awesome stuff because of this little site and to meet and connect with some amazing people. Glee has been such a huge part of my life for the last three years and I have all of you to thank for it.
Thank you for keeping up with this little blog. I am stunned & humbled when I see just how much traffic it gets on a daily basis. It has been a labor of love and I have truly loved every second of it.
For your information – the site will stay live until the domain expires in December. I won’t be updating it through the summer but if something huge happens or if I get the itch when season 4 starts, I might (and that’s a very big might) start it up again. For now, please continue following my twitter – the name will change but I will still retweet Glee news regularly. It will become more of a personal twitter for the most part so I’d love to stay in contact with all of you.
Again, thank you so much for your support of GleeHab and for the support of the show. It is truly a show like none other and will continue to change the face of mainstream TV for a long time to come. I am honored to have been a part of this era.
I am actually tearing up while writing this so I’m going to leave it at this – I have been a part of something special and it has made us all special. Thank you for everything!
Patch spoke with East Meadow native Jenna Ushkowitz, whose alter ego Tina Cohen-Chang is one of the six original New Directions members.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Ushkowitz was adopted at three months and raised in East Meadow. She appeared in numerous print ads and national commercials, along with an appearance on “Sesame Street” when she was just three.
She attended Parkway Elementary School, and later, Holy Trinity Diocesan High School (class of 2004), where she starred in musicals including “Les Miserables” and “Into the Woods.”
The former “Yankees on Deck” host graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in 2007 with a B.A. in Acting, a concentration in Theater Performance and a minor in Musical Theater. Her degree paid off; Jenna landed a role on the Broadway hit “Spring Awakening” six months later.
Ushkowitz: We were both eight years old; she was doing “Les Miserables” while I was in “The King and I.” The Broadway community is small – especially the kids’ community – and we became friends and stayed in touch, seeing each other at auditions. It was great to reunite with her in L.A. when “Glee” started.
Patch: With several of your choir-mates graduating, something tells me we’re in for a tearjerker tomorrow night.
Ushkowitz: We (the cast) were crying during the entire shoot! We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we know it will be a different show. It might be the last time we’re all in the choir room or auditorium together.
Patch: New Directions emphasizes the importance of being a part of something special – which you are in real life! What does it feel like to be part of the “Glee” family?
Ushkowitz: It’s the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I’ve made friends who will be part of my life forever. And to be part of a phenomenon that others might not understand…we’ve been through so much together, sharing amazing and sometimes difficult experiences.
Patch: Who were some of your favorite guest stars over the years?
Ushkowitz: We’ve been blessed by so many, but Kristin (Chenoweth) was my favorite. Being a Broadway girl, I’ve always idolized her. We’ve had some great, strong women on, like Gwyneth Paltrow and Whoopi Goldberg. I’d love for Hugh Jackman to come on!
Patch: Sarah Jessica Parker and Kate Hudson are already lined up for season four.
Ushkowitz: It’s so cool – that’s Carrie Bradshaw!
Patch: Favorite memories of East Meadow?
Ushkowitz: I loved bowling, so East Meadow Bowl was the place to be, along with Ralph’s Ices. And sledding at Parkway Elementary – they have great hills!
Patch: What message do you have for students out there struggling with peer pressure and bullying?
Ushkowitz: I’m pairing with Wallflower Jeans to launch a ‘Stop the Bullying’ campaign soon. Bullying is NOT okay. Speak up and get help – no situation is too small!
Question: How is next season of Glee going to work exactly, what with half the show being set in New York and the other half at McKinley? —Jenny
Ausiello: This is subject to change, but it’s my understanding that they’re taking a Lost-like approach to Season 4 — devoting whole episodes to one location or the other. In other words, the premiere might be set at NYADA with Rachel and Kurt, while Episode 2 could focus on the first day back at McKinley. Smart way to go, IMHO.
Question: Please tell me Glee will actually be shooting in New York next season and not on some cheesy Hollywood backlot outfitted to look like New York. We can tell the difference. —Melissa
Ausiello: And so, apparently, can Ryan Murphy. “We’re coming to New York,” the Glee boss insists. “Nothing is in stone, because we’re still budgeting, but I would love to come once every week and shoot a lot of scenes there. We are 100 percent doing that; we’re not going to do it all on a soundstage. That was one of the fun reasons to do [the storyline].”
For a while it seemed as though Glee would suffer a mass cast exodus as graduating seniors Rachel, Finn and Kurt headed off to pursue theater-arts studies in the Big Apple. But now Fox has announced that the series will juggle both NYC and Ohio-set story lines, with Sarah Jessica Parker and Kate Hudson signing on as New York-based mentors. (I’m hearing the New York sets will be built in Hollywood so the cast will continue working together.) With nearly everyone expected back and no summer concert tour planned during their hiatus, for the first time in years the Glee cast has a couple of free months before heading back to work. Here’s how they plan to spend the summer.
Cory Monteith (Finn): “I’m going to do an independent film toward the end of the summer. It’s going to be a lot darker than Glee and a much different character from Finn.”
Jane Lynch (Sue): “I’m going to Vermont for a month and doing jury duty in July. I’ve been pushing off my civic duty and now I have to do it. Hopefully it won’t take too long.”
Matthew Morrison (Will): “I just signed with Adam Levine’s new label. I’m one of the first artists he’s signed and will be recording my second album. It’s going to be a collection of standards, which is what I love to sing, like ‘Hey There’ and ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing.'”
Jayma Mays (Emma): “I’m shooting The Smurfs 2 through the middle of July with Neil Patrick Harris and Hank Azaria. We’re filming in Montreal and Paris. My character was expecting a baby in the first one, so now we’re going to have a little one named Blue.”
Lea Michele (Rachel): “I’m going to stay home with my family in New York for a while. I’m looking forward to seeing Ricky Martin in [Broadway’s] Evita and Andrew Garfield in Death of a Salesman. And I’m just really excited for the things coming up next year with Rachel going to college.”
Chris Colfer (Kurt): “I’ll be working on my next book and sleeping in every chance I get.” (Chris’ first novel, The Land of Stories, comes out July 17).
Darren Criss (Blaine): “A staycation. I’m going to just stay put.”
Heather Morris (Brittany): “I’m going on vacation to Mexico, as I have for the past three years. I love to swim down there.”
Naya Rivera (Santana): “Vacation plans with family and friends. Then I’ll be in the studio recording more songs for my album.”
Amber Riley (Mercedes): “I’ll be recording my album after relaxing in Jamaica!”
Kevin McHale (Artie): “Sitting my ass on a beach somewhere. And I might go visit my family in Texas.”
Dianna Agron (Quinn): “Checking off my to-do lists: my drum lessons, some pastry classes and keeping up on the trapeze! I just want to frolic around and see where the wind takes me.”
Mark Salling (Puck): “I’m going to do some more traveling and finish up the next album, which you will hear about soon. The songwriting and recording doesn’t ever stop, hiatus or not.”
Harry Shum, Jr. (Mike): “Selling lemonade in front of my mom’s house.”
Chord Overstreet (Sam): “Writing and recording music.”
Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina): “Absolutely nothing, except getting my new house together and going to Hawaii. I just want to sit in the sun, get tan and drink.”
Dot Jones (Coach Beiste): “I’m going to New York for the AIDS Walk and then a vacation.”
Ryan Murphy has never been known for keeping his schedule light. In addition to running Glee and American Horror Story, planning to direct a feature-film adaptation of Larry Kramer’s AIDS drama The Normal Heart, and writing the all-star musical One Hit Wonders for pal Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon, and Cameron Diaz, he now will also run The New Normal, a new NBC comedy premiering this fall about a gay couple who decide they want to start a family. The show stars The Book of Mormon‘s Andrew Rannells and The Hangover‘s Justin Bartha alongside Ellen Barkin, who plays the bigoted, ultraconservative grandmother of their surrogate. Somehow, in the midst of all that, he found time to sit down with us for a Vulture Transcript, an in-depth conversation covering everything from the “hard road” of making Glee (which concludes tonight) and his plans for next season, to details of the next, sixties-set season of American Horror Story, to his response to those who think his shows blow up too fast.
Three TV shows and two movies … how do you stay focused with so many ongoing projects?
I don’t know how to answer that other than I just have a passion for all of them. They feed each other. I never get bored; I’m always excited. It just feels like a very circular gerbil wheel of creativity, to be quite honest. I started off as a journalist when I was young and I did not get paid unless I wrote three stories a day. So I was brought up with that mentality, that productivity was a good thing. And I do have a great support system and bosses who understand.
And will you be the showrunner for all three of your series?
Yes. I’m still the showrunner, but Brad Falchuk [co-creator and co-executive producer on Glee and American Horror Story] is working really closely with those writing staffs. And we’re bringing on people to Glee who have run other shows, so that’s very helpful. Ali Adler co-created The New Normal and has run and staffed many rooms before. That show also will have a very overexperienced staff that we’re bringing on.
Last year, FX president John Landgraf told me what he loved so much about American Horror Story was that you had planned it as an anthology, which would keep things fresh and new for you. Is it a fair assessment to say that you like the beginnings of things best?
Certainly I am aware people say that about me, which I always find interesting and I guess I understand it … well, yes and no. I would say for American Horror Story, I do like the freshness of that and I love that show because it’s a miniseries; it’s a beginning, middle, and end.
When you write stories 22 episodes a year, it’s a daunting task. Even though Glee is sometimes a hard road, I am very excited about writing a multi-year arc. For example, Rachel Berry, meeting her as you did, hopefully by the end of her journey she will be a star. That’s a very long, long period. That’s harder, because you don’t get instant satisfaction. But I know where she’ll end up; I know what the last scene will be. The New Normal is also a really great template because I know the last scene of the first season is the birth of that baby. It’s a five-year plan — first season is about getting ready for the baby, second season is about the baby, the third season is like, “We’re in our fucking mid-forties and we need to have another baby!” New Normal is almost like a weird hybrid of Glee and American Horror Story. It’s good for me to write to something in the long and the short term.
One of the things your critics say is that your shows have a supernova quality. They ignite and everyone’s talking about them, and at some point they inevitably fall back to earth. Then those critics fall all over themselves saying, “Yes! This is what we’ve said all along!”
I suppose I get what that is about because the things that I have done so far in my career seem to have started with a big burst of attention. Magazine covers, awards, nominations — all that stuff that you really can’t create or control. So I get that by comparison the third season of Glee was maybe not as sexy and shiny and red hot as the other seasons. People said the same thing about Nip/Tuck and the fourth season wound up being its highest rated in that show’s life of seven. I guess what I have learned is that people can say what they want to say, and I respect it. Everybody has a right to put people in a box or a niche because that’s their job. I used to do that [as a journalist]. I don’t think that’s true about me, but time will tell.
At the beginning of this season of Glee, you said no big tributes, no guest stars. But the truth is, you began doing both in the second half of the season. What happened there? Do you feel pulled in both directions?
I don’t feel that I’m pulled in those directions. And you know, the first season, which now everyone has put a halo on, did exactly that: We had guest stars, we had the Madonna tribute. .. I think the thing about the fan base is you can’t take anything too personal because it all comes from a place of passion. There are some people who love the characters. There are other groups of people who love the spectacle. When you do the spectacle, the people who love the characters get pissed. “Fuck them, why aren’t they doing a Brittany and Santana story instead of a Michael Jackson celebration?” Then when you do the opposite they’re like, “You know, where’s the tribute to Frank Sinatra? This is bullshit.” You just can’t win. So I think you try to do the best that you can, and I really do respect the fans, because I think it’s a young audience, and I think it’s a very Internet-savvy audience. We care about the show and we care about the characters and the tributes, but it’s a young, rollicking show by design. I get that sometimes people fall in and out of love with it in the course of two episodes.
It’s also hard when you do a show that no one thought would work — even the people who ran the network did not think it would work. Some of the critics thought it was gonna be five episodes then out. And I think that it’s a show that the fans made. They found it, they loved it, they bought the music, they turned it into a phenomenon, they bought the tickets for those concert tours, they created the ability to do multi-platforms, they had a really strong proprietary grasp on it. I think the critics did, too, and I think a lot of the bloggers did. So whenever you have something like that, and then you evolve and you grow and you try different things and you experiment and you risk, [they say] “We don’t like it, go back to what you used to do.” And then you say “Well, we are kind of doing what we used to do, but I understand how you would see it was different.”
I will say the story for season four gets back to the underdog status [for the characters] and that will appease people, maybe. Sometimes I feel that you can’t win. It’s just a volatile group of people that watch it, and for that, I like their passion. Anybody who’s ever done a show about youth has told me they went through this exact same thing.
What did you think of Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly saying next season would be a “creative renaissance” for the show at the network’s upfront?
I don’t think that Kevin was particularly a fan of what I was trying to do with the beginning of this season. We did an episode of all show tunes, we did several of them. There was the West Side Story thing that I loved, but I don’t think the audience did. Kevin wants a Glee that’s about Top 40, pop culture, big stars. So I know that he loved the end of this season, and I went and pitched him the next season and I think he loves it because it’s very pop-culture-based. We’re doing a great tribute right off the bat, another Britney Spears episode. Many of the characters will be starting over as underdogs, which is a good thing for the show. I really made an effort, talking to all the regulars about it.
What do you mean?
We had a meeting, and you know that we’ve become like a family, and I said to them anybody who wants to stay on the show will stay on the show. I asked all of them, “What do you want to do? What are you interested in doing?” That said, the show next year will have less characters than we’ve ever had and I think that’s a good thing. But I don’t think that you’ll see a show that suddenly you don’t recognize. A lot of people have been writing Dianna [Agron]’s off the show, Amber [Riley]’s off the show — they’re not off the show.
You know why they’re saying that about Amber, though. Amber tweeted that she had “closed a chapter” of her life.
I think she was talking about a bittersweet feeling of, “I’ll never be in the choir room with that exact group of people.” At least that’s what she told me. When I read that , I said, “I think people will misconstrue that.” She’s excited about where her character is going. They all are. I wanted to do the right thing by all of them. I think that was the problem in the media last year when people thought that I was getting rid of Lea [Michele], Cory [Monteith], and Chris [Colfer] because I couldn’t talk about the spinoff. “Oh, you’re getting rid of my beloved characters? Fuck you, I hate you, how dare you.”