Q&A: 'Glee' Creator Ryan Murphy Reveals Plans for Rest of Season - Rolling Stone
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Q&A: ‘Glee’ Creator Ryan Murphy Reveals Plans for Rest of Season

‘We will continue to use Journey songs,’ says Murphy

Elisabetta Villa/Getty

Tonight Glee caps off the first half of its second season with “A Very Glee Christmas,” just six days after being nominated for two Grammys. We spoke to series creator Ryan Murphy about Glee scoring the first-ever Grammy nod for Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” tackling the King of Pop in upcoming episodes and what’s in store for Kurt and Blaine.

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What do you think it is about “Don’t Stop Believin'” that made it the song from Glee to get nominated for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals, out of everything else you’ve done this year?
For us, it was the first song that we did. It was the first single. It sold a million copies for us. It was in the pilot. I think it was the musical thing that got everybody talking about the show because the pilot aired in May [2009] and that song played all through the summer and sold all through the summer and was there in the fall when we went back in the air.

Also, I think it’s an anthem and people have such nostalgic feelings about that song — I did — so to see it interpreted by a new group, particularly a group of kids, I think was emotional and stirring. The thing that I love most about that nomination was that “Don’t Stop Believin'” has never seen any Grammy nominations. So the fact that we were paying tribute to Steve Perry and Journey and their talent when we were doing it, that felt like a full circle thing for us.

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Have you heard from any of the guys in Journey since the nomination?
Since the nominations, no, but we did speak to Steve Perry [before]. He’s stopped by the set, he’s very supportive of the show, I think so much because the show is so much about arts education and he particularly really loves that and got that early on. I haven’t heard from him [since the nominations] but I want to. I want to tell him how excited we are about it.

You guys have used a few Journey songs and, actually, in last week’s episode poked fun at the fact that you used a lot of Journey songs.
[Laughs] Yes, we have used so many Journey songs — and we will continue to use Journey songs.

Looking at the other nominations for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals, two of the other songs are the original versions of songs that have been performed on Glee: Paramore’s “The Only Exception” and Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister.”
I know, and looking at that group we’re actually covering one of the other nominees: we’re doing Maroon 5’s “Misery.” There’s only one nominee in that category we haven’t done, so that was funny to us.

What can you reveal about “Misery”?
“Misery” is a track that Blaine (Darren Criss) is going to do with the Warblers. I’m friendly with Adam Levine, and he texted me saying, ‘I think it’s time we get Maroon 5 on Glee.’ I said, ‘I agree, I think it’d be great.’ I love that song, I love Adam’s performance on that song, so we’re doing that in an upcoming spring episode.

We just had Darren Criss in the office talking about what his hopes are for Blaine on the show — what can you say about how this will relate to his relationship with Kurt?
We haven’t written the script, so I don’t know if it will be romantic or not. Darren has certainly blown up and become really sought after, and I love his interpretations of a lot of things. I thought his voice and Adam’s voice would fit each other well — and indeed, they do. I like that the a cappella group can do all sorts of music, including rock, but I don’t know what the story is going to be yet.

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The other nominee in that category is Sade’s “Babyfather.”
That’s the one we’re not doing. [Laughs] Not yet, anyway. I love Sade, so knows?

After tonight’s episode, you’ll be off the air until February. What can fans look forward to when you return?
I always think it’s good when the show goes off air and make people miss it a little bit. When we come back, we come back with our Super Bowl episode, which is a Sunday and then on Tuesday we go straight into another episode. So, when we come back there’ll be two Glee episodes in one week with, I think, 12 songs total.

I’m excited about our spring season because we’re going back to the earlier Glee episodes. We really love all of our characters and the soap opera aspects of the show and now that we’re cooking we’ll be featuring those great stories in the back half.

With regard to the Super Bowl episode, so far we’ve heard that “Thriller” will be featured —

— that there will be a big Sue Sylvester blowout and that Katie Couric will be guest-starring.

Can you reveal anything about how “Thriller” will be worked into that episode?
It’s top secret, I’m sworn to secrecy. I want people to be surprised with what we’re doing. All I’ll say about that is that we’re putting a new spin on it that I think people will really like.

I heard that there’s a mash-up involved.
Can’t say. Isn’t it sad that I won’t comment? We’re doing a couple Michael Jackson songs this year, that’s the first one.

Which other ones are on tap?
I’m narrowing it down, I don’t know which ones I like. We’re not doing any more tribute episodes this year, but I want some old school ones.

I just read that Katie Couric will be doing “Tea For Two” on the Super Bowl episode.
No, that is not true. [Laughs]

So many rumors — which leads to last week’s rumor that, come 2012, the current crop of New Directions will be graduating.
Yes, we’re going to be doing something. I’m not going to reveal what it is because it’s two years away, but it’ll be something momentous happening that spring.

In the way of a graduation?

But not necessarily in the way of people leaving the show?

What have been your favorite Glee performances?
I love “Don’t Stop Believin'” because it was the first song and I love how we paid tribute to the band. I love Gwyneth Paltrow’s version of “Forget You.” I think she was so great in it, and we paid tribute to Cee Lo, who we all love so I was thrilled for his Grammy nomination. And then I’ve always been a big Florence and the Machine fan and I love that we did “The Dog Days Are Over” in a really sweet, fun, uplifting way. It helped bolt their single into the top 10, and I love that we can do that.

The Grammy nominations are capping off a banner year of accolades. What is the next big thing for Glee?
I don’t know. Just when you think things are going to quiet down, something explosive happens. [Laughs]. After how exciting it was in the beginning, because the show’s success was unexpected and the music sales and artists who we admire giving us music, I just think everyone, the cast and myself included, rolls with the punches. Everything gets us excited because none of it was expected.

Has there been any talk about performing on Grammy night?
We’re talking to them. We would love to do “Don’t Stop Believin'” in some capacity.

Perhaps uniting the cast with Journey?
That would be awesome. I haven’t heard that, but I would love that.

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