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Share the Glee
By Lisa Damian Kidder
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2013 Triumph Books LLC
All rights reserved.
It's a Hit!
Since its debut on May 19, 2009, the musical drama series, Glee, has garnered a huge fan following and has won numerous awards. It has been nominated for almost 200 awards and has won more than 70, including Emmy, Satellite, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, Grammy, People's Choice, and Teen Choice awards, just to name a few. It has received attention for achievements in writing, directing, acting, comedy, drama, and musical score.
From the beginning, Glee was a ground-breaking one-hour drama/comedy musical television series unlike anything that had been seen on TV prior to its release. Glee centers around a fictional high school show choir made up of students from different backgrounds. One of the assumptions behind Glee is that those who participated in high school show choirs or "Glee Clubs" have not always been the most popular upper-echelon of teenage society. Perhaps one of the things that makes Glee so appealing is that it demonstrates that there's a little bit of geeky love for musical entertainment in all of us — jocks, cheerleaders, science whizzes, people with disabilities, shy kids, and rockers alike. It's this feeling that makes us want to cheer for the underdog characters of the show who are brave enough to put themselves on the line and sing with such heart.
Acceptance and tolerance are themes woven through the show. Discovering the things we all have in common, such as sharing the same fears and emotions despite our differences, is something grappled with in many of the episodes. Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk, in an interview for Wired magazine, said, "The point of the show is that every teenager is a geek. Every teenager feels a wanting, a desire for something more, to be heard, to be seen."
In addition to his work on Glee, show co-creator Ryan Murphy has received many awards and nominations for his other work in television and film. His early television series, Popular, received much critical acclaim, and his television series Nip/Tuck won a Golden Globe for "Best Television Series." His more recent television series, American Horror Story, created with Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk, received Emmy, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild awards and nominations. Murphy's full-length feature films, Running with Scissors and Eat, Pray, Love, also received several awards and nominations.
Ryan Murphy was once asked in an interview with Deadline, "How important are awards in the grand scheme of things?" Murphy responded, "For some shows, the acknowledgment and a lot of nominations can certainly turn eyeballs to the screen. We've seen that a couple of times over the past years. But for the most part, it's a really nice acknowledgment by your peers that you did good work, and that's really all you should look at it as. It's a really fun event; it's nice to be in a room with so many people who I have admired and looked up to for years, many of whom have influenced my work. So I never think of it anything other than: You're in the game, you're at the dance, maybe you'll be called up to the floor, maybe you won't. It's a nice occasion to look good. [Laughs] I always have fun and meet new people. For me, at this point, I always feel like the proud papa."
Glee has consistently crossed over from television to music awards and back again, truly playing on its theme as a musical dramedy. In its first season alone, the show garnered eleven Primetime Emmy nominations, nine Creative Arts Emmy nominations, four Golden Globe nominations, and dozens of others. Glee has consistently maintained its award-winning reputation in each of its first four seasons and promises to carry through into seasons five and six as well.
As is in the case in many ensemble cast TV series, Glee's costars sometimes compete against each other in the same award categories. In 2011, the Dorian award for "TV Comedy Performance of the Year" resulted in a tie in which both Glee actor Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt Hummel, and his costar Jane Lynch, who plays Coach Sue Sylvester, took home the award. In the case of Glee, its numerous celebrity guest stars are often nominated for the same awards as well, as was the case in 2011 when both Britney Spears and Neil Patrick Harris were nominated for the People's Choice "Favorite TV Guest Star" award. Gwenyth Paltrow, Dot-Marie Jones, and Kristin Chenoweth were all nominated for the 2010-2011 Emmy in the category of "Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series," with Gwenyth Paltrow taking home the award for her portrayal of quirky substitute teacher Holly Holiday.
Glee has been nominated for the Screen Actors Guild award "Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series" all four seasons to date, and it has won the award once. Many cultural image organizations have also recognized Glee. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has nominated Glee for awards in all of its four seasons thus far, and the show has won GLAAD awards most of those years. Several of the cast members are also involved with GLAAD. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has nominated Glee for several awards, as has the American Latino Media Arts (ALMA) and the Women's Image Network (WIN).
Glee's award show performances have received almost as much praise as the show itself. On the 62nd annual Emmy Awards show, the Glee cast was featured in the opening number. In this unforgettably funny yet skilled performance, Emmy award host Jimmy Fallon and cast members of Glee recruited others in the Nokia Theatre to join their mock Glee club and sing Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." In addition to Fallon and the Glee cast, performers and cameo appearances included Tina Fey, Betty White, Vampire Diaries' star Nina Dobrev, Jorge Garcia from Lost and Once Upon a Time, Project Runway's Tim Gunn, Kate Gosselin, American Idol judge Randy Jackson, and John Hamm from Mad Men.
Matthew Morrison, who plays teacher Will Schuester on Glee, performed on stage at the 2010 Tony Awards, singing "All I Need is the Girl" from the Broadway musical Gypsy. Lea Michele, who plays Rachel Berry, also performed on stage at the 2010 Tony Awards, singing "Don't Rain on My Parade," a song immortalized by Barbara Streisand in Funny Girl and also performed by Lea Michele on an episode of Glee.
At the Grammy Awards that aired in February 2010, Gwenyth Paltrow hopped on stage with singer Cee Lo Green to perform his song "Forget You," the same song for which she received such attention when she guest starred on Glee. At the Grammys, Cee Lo appeared in a costume that included an armored chest plate with flamboyant feathers, a bejeweled head piece, and large white sunglasses, surrounded by a space-age themed stage complete with a Muppet band and back-up singers. It was very reminiscent of the scene in which Elton John sang "Crocodile Rock" on The Muppet Show. Cee Lo Green commented on Gwenyth Paltrow's performance of his song "Forget You" on Glee in an interview with Access Hollywood. "I thought it was great to just be honored in that way at all. Even if it wasn't so good of a version or rendition, it's still pretty cool, like, to be complimented like that. It's flattering."
Gleeks are in prestigious company, as even First Lady Michelle Obama has commented that she and her daughters are fans of the show. In fact, the First Family invited the Glee cast to perform at the annual Easter egg roll for children on the White House lawn in 2010. Glee cast member Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes Jones on the show, sang the National Anthem from the White House balcony. Riley has sung the National Anthem at major league baseball games and other venues as well, with no two performances being alike. She has an ability to personally customize her vocal range for the Anthem, a trait clearly appreciated by the Obamas during Riley's ending of the Anthem during her Easter 2010 performance. She performed the National Anthem again at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Members of the Glee cast, along with other famous singers such as Usher and Katy Perry, performed live at the Kids Inaugural Concert commemorating the reelection of President Barack Obama in January 2013. Naya Rivera, who plays Santana Lopez on Glee, and Darren Criss, who plays Blaine Anderson, performed an acoustic version of Amy Winehouse's "Valerie" with Criss playing guitar. Amber Riley performed Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful." Darren Criss followed up with his original song "Not Alone." He played piano and sang, accompanied by the Walt Whitman's Soul Children of Chicago choir. Show creators and Glee cast members have also crossed paths with President Obama at various charity fundraising events.
It's not just Democrats who are fans of the show. The Glee cast is sought after by politicians on both sides of the political divide. Republican U.S. Representative and former presidential candidate hopeful Michele Bachmann actively sought out members of the Glee cast at the Time's 100 Event in 2011. She said she looked for Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt Hummel, but she couldn't find him. She did, however, find Darren Criss, who plays Colfer's on-screen boyfriend, Blaine. Representative Bachmann had her picture taken with Criss, and then proceeded to send the photo to her children. Criss had this to say about the meeting, in an interview with Details magazine, "I never let my politics supersede my manners."
Glee has been an overwhelming favorite among the People's Choice Awards and Teen Choice Awards. It has been nominated for 18 People's Choice Awards and won six to date. As for the Teen Choice Awards, it has been nominated for 38 and won 13 thus far. In 2013, talk show host Ellen presented both Lea Michele and Chris Colfer with People's Choice Awards. The Glee cast recognized Cory Monteith, who played Finn Hudson up until his untimely death, in their 2013 Teen Choice award acceptance speeches, and Lea Michele dedicated her individual 2013 Teen Choice Award to Cory Monteith in a heartfelt speech that was loudly cheered and supported by the jam-packed celebrity audience.
Glee has even hosted its own music awards show. Glee The Music Awards was hosted in 2011 by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. Awards were given for Best Solos, Best Duet, Best Medley, and Best Original Song. One lucky Gleek, former American Idol contestant Todrick Hall, won a Glee the Music Award for Best Fan Video for his video titled, "I Wanna Be on Glee." Todrick Hall's jaw-dropping dance and musical talent was perfectly showcased in his fan video produced and edited by Ethan Newberry. "I Wanna Be on Glee" and other songs by Todrick Hall are available for purchase on iTunes.
Not only has Glee captured the attention of award shows throughout the industry, but it has also become the "place to be" for famous musicians and celebrity guest stars. In the movie This is 40, iconic rock star Graham Parker has a conversation with Green Day musician Billie Joe Armstrong about how cool it is to have music featured on Glee, implying tongue-in-cheek that it represents the pinnacle point in a rock star's career meaning they've "made it" and are able to share their music with the world in this cutting edge new format.
Although Glee music supervisor PJ Bloom once insisted that "Glee doesn't break bands," he made an exception in the case of New York indie band Fun. When Fun's single "We Are Young" was released, it didn't receive a lot of attention. However, when the Glee cast performed the song in December 2011 and later the song was used in a commercial during the 2012 Super Bowl, the band's popularity increased dramatically. Sales for the song soared 1,650 percent. The band later won a Grammy for its hit single.
Fun was just one of many bands to benefit from being featured on Glee. Gotye's single "Somebody That I Used to Know" went to #1 on the Billboard charts after being sung by members of the Glee cast and then performing the song on late night TV and other venues. Another example is the success of the band Imagine Dragons and their single "It's Time," which was performed by Darren Criss on Glee. Wayne Sermon, guitarist for Imagine Dragons, said about their song being featured on Glee, "It's a demographic that might not have normally heard our music, so to us, it's pretty cool."
Some 550 songs have been performed on Glee in its first four seasons. Most of these songs were covers from popular music, but a handful of recent songs were original works written for the show. It looks like this trend may continue into seasons five and six, with a few original works interspersed with the well-known hit musical numbers.
Glee has single-handedly catapulted many of the songs it has covered to the top of the charts in a way almost no other single publicity source has. This phenomenon appears to be a win-win for all artists involved. Often times, the songs performed by the original bands receive dramatic boosts in sales, while at the same time, the Glee cast version is downloaded in staggering numbers on iTunes.
The success of Glee was certainly unexpected in the industry. Fox executives Gary Newman and Dana Walden took an idea that no one else seemed to believe could succeed and gave Ryan Murphy the artistic freedom to run with it. Newman commented that when the show was first conceived, "The response across the industry was unanimous: Musicals don't work on TV. It's too expensive. It won't repeat. And the high school setting will keep it too narrow and niche." Fortunately for fans, those assumptions were tossed aside.
Newman went on to say, "Now, Glee is an international powerhouse. In fact, we have clients around the world clamoring to create their own versions." Newman added that licensing deals with Amazon.com and Netflix are worth $1.5 million per episode of Glee, and 50 million songs and 13 million albums from the show have been sold. Glee, he said, boasts more songs on the Billboard Top 100 list than any musical act in history, including The Beatles and Elvis Presley. "We launched a live stage business with a sold-out arena concert tour in 2011, and now a live stage musical is in the works," Newman said of Glee. "And two more seasons of the show were ordered by Fox. When you identify the right creator and support a big, creative vision, you get a show like Glee."CHAPTER 2
Remembering Cory Monteith
Cory Monteith was one of the original permanent cast members of Glee, featured in the first scene of the first episode. He played Finn Hudson, the popular high school quarterback who lent some credibility to the struggling McKinley High New Directions show choir, even if the only reason he initially joined was because Mr. Schu blackmailed him into it. Though he received much flack for it from his football teammates, Finn decided to stick with it because he felt that singing allowed him to express something in himself that sports could not. Even as he struggled with his dancing abilities, Finn also struggled to make all the different aspects of his personality work in tandem. Finn was the one who bridged the gap between different student groups. He motivated people to come together and believe in themselves.
When asked about his character, Monteith told Parade in an interview, "I love Finn's optimism. He's very idealistic; he wants a good girl to love him, and he chases after what he wants in life — that I can relate to." Monteith did a fantastic job capturing Finn's loveable character — his innocence, his struggles, his hopes, and his insecurities. The sense of humanity and vulnerability behind the popular character came through in Monteith's portrayal of Finn. Much like his character, Monteith seemed to be a truly likeable guy who got along well with everyone around him. Both talented and open-hearted, he made an impact on others.
Monteith was one of the only actors in the cast of Glee who did not have previous singing or dancing experience. He admitted that his manager was the one who talked him into auditioning at all, and he was terrified of singing in front of other people. He had never even seen a musical before starring in one himself. In fact, it was Glee costar Lea Michele who took him to see his first musical, Rock of Ages. Reluctant to sing on his initial audition video, he chose to play the drums instead, using a collection of glasses, plastic storage containers, and unsharpened pencils as drumsticks. Impressed by Monteith's impromptu drumming, the creators of Glee decided to write Finn as a drummer into the storyline. His drumming talent, his optimism, his down-to-earth attitude, and his good-natured friendliness are just a few of Monteith's natural attributes that translated well into his character. Despite being fearful of singing in front of other people, his voice and musical talent were clearly appreciated. His rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" with the rest of the Glee cast, shot to the top of the charts in multiple countries.
Excerpted from Share the Glee by Lisa Damian Kidder. Copyright © 2013 Triumph Books LLC. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
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