Glee Co-Creators, Brad Falchuck and Ian Brennan, Discuss In-Depth What Has Been and What's To Come With the Return of Glee on April 13 at 9:28 p.m. ET/PT

The breakout hit series of this season has got to be Glee. It has quickly gained a cult following with extreme fanatics watching, buying, and loving everything associated with the musical show basically about a high school show choir. With the second half of the second season about to premiere on FOX on Tuesday night, April 13 at 9:28 p.m. ET/PT after American Idol, the co-creators of the series, Brad Falchuck and Ian Brennan, participated in a conference call interview with various members of the media, including myself.

Everyone has been surprised by the success of Glee early on. Just this past week the entire cast was on Oprah and Oprah described the show as “the most talked about show on TV”. But probably no one is surprised more than the creators of the show. Brad Falchuck said “we shot the first 13 episodes without any of them airing, except we did the special sneak screening of the pilot, so we had no idea what we had. We thought we had something very entertaining and good, but we didn’t know it was going to be quite so epically popular quite so quickly. We’re very pleasantly surprised, obviously. And we knew we were working hard to achieve that, but we didn’t know it was going to become the kind of phenomenon that it has become. We certainly couldn’t have expected that. It would have been inappropriate to expect that; it would have been hubris.” Ian agreed with Brad when he said “yes, on a daily basis it surprises me. We believe in the show and we knew it was good, but I had no idea. I thought that it would kind of be like a niche hit that was good and people liked, but somehow it just struck a cord with people, and that is a real, real pleasant surprise.”

Some fans of the show might not realize what the idea behind creating this show was. The initial premise was based on Ian’s experiences singing in show choir at Mt. Prospect High School. Here is what he had to say about everyone back at his old high school reacting to the show’s success. “I’ve heard kind of rhetorically a lot of schools, I think, are going through, I mean we’re in California, which is having such an incredible budget crisis right now, and I think that’s happening in states everywhere, and I actually heard from a guy who worked I think in the public school system somewhere in Washington state and he was like yes, we’re having a ton of problems, programs are getting cut. The one thing he said, he was like the one thing no one is touching now is Glee Club, which is such a fascinating blow back from this show. Like if you said a year ago that we were going to kind of be a nationwide commercial for show choirs I would have never guessed it. So it’s a weird kind of snake eating its tail aspect for me to have kind of come full circle from when I was in mixed company. I was a cherub; I had the worst haircut and real bad t-zone issues, like just greasy forehead, super skinny in an ill-fitting tuxedo and a sequined tie. And 15 years later this would be happening. It’s all very, very strange and wonderful.”

That is also how Ian met Brad. Ian explained “I was in show choir for three years, we weren’t very good, I was very busy, and it was kind of stressful period of time for me. And it just seemed like I thought it was an interesting world that nobody had written about. Then when I met Ryan and Brad, Ryan had also been in glee clubs and he had actually been in it through college, which is a whole other world of just nerdiness, wonderful nerdiness. So it was kind of the three of us, me, Ryan, and Brad, all kind of collectively bringing our high school experiences to it. So it’s more an amalgam than anything; it was more just having been a part of that world, such a niche little microcosm, I think, of what a high school experience is and what like the American experience is I guess.”

Brad also realized that a lot of their early success was helped by being put right on after American Idol. “Our show is such a musical menagerie, it’s not like we only rely on Broadway singing. We have as many rap songs as Broadway songs. And you know we’re just lucky to follow Idol. I don’t think any of us would complain if they stood there and said anything, because we’re lucky to have the chance to follow them because they’re just juggernaut; they’re the biggest hit on TV. I know that the kids, the actors, my wife always yells at me for calling them the kids, but the kids are there all the time. They go to the tapings there and sort of enjoy it and just love the show. Everybody is always talking about it the next day, who was eliminated, and all that stuff. So I know there’s some cross over there certainly.”

The guys also talked about how all of the popular TV shows these days have more product placement and other ways to make money like CDs, tours, etc. “Television it’s a much harder marketplace now. If you look at the ratings of even the biggest show on TV, like American Idol, 20 years ago that show would have been cancelled because the ratings have been too low. And so it’s a sort of a different marketplace, and so I think that television is adapting, and it’s adapting really well actually, to finding new income streams to make shows profitable. For a while it was DVDs and syndication, and now you look at a show like ours where we sold, you know, we have two gold records, I think four or five platinum singles just so far and we’ve only aired 13 times. And then we have the tour coming up; we’ll be in Chicago and New York and LA and Phoenix, and obviously t-shirts and all that stuff. All the little ancillary things I think that any business needs to expand or find new ways to generate revenue, and so I think it’s exciting the way it’s happening. Because the fact is none of it is hurting the brand and none of it is changing the creative process. We’re still just telling the best stories we can tell and trying to put out the best episodes we can put out, and all that other stuff is just enhancing it; it’s not coming first. So I think that’s sort of interesting. The reality is from the first 13, like I said, we didn’t know because we hadn’t aired them yet, people love seeing the songs in the show. And so we said well this also kind of works for the show when we have more music, so we decided to put more music in there. It really was to enhance the experience of that hour of watching television. It really wasn’t about what was going to happen after that. And we’ve aired 13 times, and I think when you look at most shows when do they really hit their stride. They hit their stride in season two, season three, and so we’re still really learning the voice of the show and what works and what doesn’t work. And so the more music really has to do with we’re saying maybe more music is better; maybe more music works better for our show.”

Brad and Ian also discussed how easy it is to get music clearances on the show. Brad said “it has always been relatively easy; we’ve had a pretty good– PJ Bloom, our music supervisor, does a very good job in clearing songs. But now, when we premiered in the U.K. Don’t Stop Believing, the original version suddenly started climbing up the charts again; that’s a 30-year-old song. And so I think artists appreciate that we are never making– Whatever they think of our particular versions of the songs we’re introducing their songs to a whole new generation of people that might not have heard them before. And that works both ways; there are people that, are culture relative right now, that people in their 40’s aren’t that familiar with, and so they hear a Beyonce song and they’re like hum, Beyonce she’s kind of interesting, and suddenly they’re downloading her music, too. So it works both ways, both with the younger and the older audience on our show.”

But they also plan on having original songs on the show in the not too distant future as well. “I think maybe in season two there’s a thought about doing some of that. Again, like I said, the key with us is what’s the story right now and what do we want to say right now and what’s going on with these characters right now. And so there was thought about doing that in the back nine, but then it sort of didn’t fit in. And so there’s certainly thoughts of doing that in season two. Ryan is sort of the music genius of the show and he manages all the music, and if he says that he’s thinking about us doing it then I believe him that he thinks about us doing it. So he’s been saying that we’ll probably do that in the back nine, so I do think we would do that episode.”

Ian talked more about the music and how it affects the storylines in the series. “The music always comes out of the writer’s room, that we never have a song and then try to cram it in or write a story around that. But it’s the other way around; it always has to service the story first, which I think is actually what helps. And how it helps it, what makes the music integrate well into the stories, is that’s the direction we come at it.”

They still don’t seem worried at all about any type of over exposure. “It’s sort of like we’re here, get on the conference call; there are 35 reporters that would like to speak to you. We’re going to talk to them. If the President asks you to come or Oprah asks you to come you’re not going to say no. I think all we can really do is keep trying to make the best stories we can and keep these characters interesting, and we really do focus on that. It’s sort of like every at bat is important, and we get up there and try and hit as best we can. It’s really that simple. All that stuff doesn’t mean a lot, when Ian, Ryan, and I get in a room and we’re writing or when we get on the set and we’re working with the actors, it’s sort of none of that outside stuff really means that much. We just have to sort of do our best. And so we don’t worry too much about it, because I don’t think there’s anything we can do about it. Ian added this “if we keep things interesting for us, and as long as we don’t get bored with it, I think we’ll be fine. And they’re really good, Ryan in particular, just kind of mixing it up and keeping it interesting. So I don’t worry so much about that.”

Brad talked more about the marketing angle of the show, and possible overexposure. “The marketing department at Fox is really actually quite amazing what they’re able to do. And also we are incredibly involved with all of that, what material goes out, and especially Ryan is intensely involved with what gets out, what doesn’t get out. And I happen to not think that, because I see all of those clips and what’s going to be put out and what story points are going to be revealed, that the experience of sitting down for that hour and watching, actually experience the show as we intend you to experience and the moments we want you to feel. You can see a clip and see a song that might be in the show; it’s not the same as when you’ve been on that ride of the episode and what’s the emotional moment, the emotional impact of that song at that minute thirty-one as opposed to just seeing a little bit of the clip of it. And also nowadays everything is everywhere, and you sort of need to sort of feed that beast. So we don’t get too concerned about that.”

Brad then went on to talk about having a break in the first season, and how they pretty much had to restart with the start of the second half of the season. “I think a lot of people will be reintroduced to the show when we premiere in April, because we’re after Idol and so I think a lot of new will take place, and so we wanted to sort of restart things and reboot things. And they weren’t sectionals, but regionals are sort of coming up, and regionals are against much tougher competition and vocal adrenaline, so we had to reset a little bit and let people know really where they still stand. I think that was the right thing to do, and I think we can then build to another really striking conclusion at the end of the nine.”

Brad and Ian also gave us a preview of what to expect in the final 9 episodes of the show. Brad had this to say about the Finn/Rachel relationship. “Well the Finn/Rachel relationship is obviously a core to the show. It’s something that’s really sort of important because it’s the bridge of the two worlds that really in the pilot we were trying to put together, which was this sort of popular jock boy with this unique Glee girl. She represents Glee and he represents the rest of the world. And so we always are going to explore that relationship in many different ways, and it’s going to be a push and a pull in that sometimes it’s going to be him going after her and sometimes it’s going to be her going after him, and they’re always going to sort of be watching each other from afar. No matter what’s going on in their lives they’ll always have one eye on the other one. So we’ll see a bunch of that, and then by the end, I think by episode 22 of the back 9, so episode 9 of the last 9, we’ll reach a really temporary conclusion to that. I mean by the end of the scenario of the first season, we’ll have reached some kind of understanding between the two, but it’s always temporary with those two. I think their relationship is always going to be, like I said, a challenge for both of them, even though they both I think secretly, and not so secretly, sometimes love each other.”

Brad also talked about the relationship between Puck and Rachel. “Well every good girl likes a bad boy, and there’s nobody more good than Rachel and nobody no more bad than Puck. So we had no idea it was going to be quite so popular, those two. We did it, sort of again like I said, we shot all those episodes in a bubble, and so we didn’t know that putting them in a relationship was really going to make people so excited. So we go back and explore that a little bit in the back nine, and like I said, we’ll continue to explore it. It’s high school, and everybody is always bouncing around to everybody else in high school, so that won’t stop.”

Ian talked about the Matt and Emma relationship. “It’s great. That’s another kind of one of the relationships that we kind of I actually had no idea how much people were going to love that and how much we enjoyed writing that. And another one where’s there’s kind of a lot of that’s a very complicated relationship, and there is a lot of push and pull that you can tell kind of two people who want to be together and kind of struggle to get through because of their own issues. So we deal with it a lot in the back nine.”

Brad then again praised the character of Puck, and Mark Salling, who portrays that character. “Mark has really taken that character, and again he’s humanized it in a way that has really given it a lot of dimension and made it really fun to write. And so Mark has a lot of very focused stories in the back nine, and so yes, he’ll have plenty of moments. Because again, it’s like we have talent like that, where a guy looks like that and he can sing like that and he just has a very easy sort of movie star charm about him and an accessibility, you want to write towards that. So yes, he’ll have plenty of stuff. Puck’s hands will get plenty of Puck in them. There will be a Rat Pack style number with him as well. If you haven’t fallen in love with him yet after that one, good Lord.”

Another thing to look forward to is Jane Lynch singing in an upcoming episode, which will definitely delight Glee fans everywhere. Surprisingly, it wasn’t hard to convince her as Brad explains. “It wasn’t hard. We just gave her the script. It was in the Madonna episode, which is truly, I think, probably our most spectacular episode to date. It is truly a spectacular that you watch and you can’t believe you’re watching a television show. And when she saw it and saw what she’d be doing she was so excited. And then when you see her do this Vogue it is … awesome. It’s incredible. So it wasn’t hard. She was being modest, I think, when she told you she would never sing.”

As far as exploring Kurt’s new relationship, Brad said “that’s all going to be season two stuff. We have not cast those new characters yet and we haven’t gotten into that stuff yet. That will be definitely season two stuff. J-Lo will not be on this season, but Neal Patrick Harris will be, and he’s amazing. And who else? Anybody else coming in there? Michael O’Malley will be back, who is just playing Kurt’s dad, who is just honestly just the biggest gift we could get. He’s truly extraordinary and really humanizes both those characters, I think, with what he did with Kurt’s father. That’s been a real grounding relationship in the show is Kurt and his dad.”

Brad continued to talk about some guest stars to expect in the final 9 episodes of this season, though. “Idina [Menzel] is incredible and the episode with Kristin [Chenoweth] in it, I think, is maybe our best one yet. It’s called Home; it’s the third one back, and it’s really so moving and hilarious. She is obviously Kristin, so you kind of can’t keep your eyes off her. Kristen’s a mega talent; you can’t sort of not want to have her around as much as possible, so certainly. But we haven’t gotten into all that stuff yet, and we have some plans for next season. But like I said, every episode is sort of what’s going on right now and what do we need right now and what are the stories that are really compelling and interesting right now for these characters, and so we really sort of go day-by-day in that way.”

The biggest guest star will be How I Met Your Mother‘s, Neil Patrick Harris, though. Brad said “the guy’s a frigging genius; he’s awesome. Everybody loved him, everybody loved working with him, he was delightful, he was easy. I mean he was all the things you want him to be, and he just brought something. When we were writing the character we were like oh my God what if for some reason Neal gets too busy and can’t do it. No one else can play this character; we’ll have to rewrite the whole episode. Ian added by saying “he was fantastic, especially on the dailies. He was really, really good. Yes, he was really excited about what we had written for him and it was just a perfect mix. And then Josh Sweetin, who is of Buffy and of DollHouse, directed that episode and they had worked together on the Dr. Horrible, so they had a great rapport. And I’m really excited to see the cut of that episode, because I think it’s going to be really, really good and really funny. There’s some great stuff in that episode, and then also Neil Patrick Harris, so that should be a good one.”

Finally, on the possibility of bringing back Neil for more after this season. “Again, it’s the same thing with Kristin. You have talents like that it’s very hard to not want them back. The one advantage we have is that I think we have so many incredibly talented people in our regular cast that guest actors we don’t need them as much. But there are certain very special people that of course you’d always be interested in, but you never know is what I say.”

Once again, be sure to tune in tomorrow night for the return of season one of Glee at 9:28 p.m. ET/PT, after American Idol on FOX!

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