Glee’s Ryan Murphy on the future of the show: Lea ‘made the decision’

Glee spoilers follow
Following the tragic death of Glee star Cory Monteith a little over a week ago, the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, has spoken to Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, and E! News. The pieces read like Ryan gave separate extensive interviews to each outlet, and like he’s trying to make sense of Cory’s passing, and of how the show will move forward without him.

There’s a plan in place for Glee, which has been led and approved by Cory’s girlfriend, his co-star Lea Michele. Ryan heaped praise on Lea for how steadfast she’s been following her loss. With Lea’s help, they’ve decided to resume filming for the show in mid-August, to air just three episodes starting at the end of September, and to have Cory’s character, Finn Hudson, pass away on the show instead of trying to replace him with another actor. Then they’ll all spend some time to regroup, with new episodes to air next year. Glee was previously renewed for two seasons, which they’re planning on delivering.

Here’s some of what Ryan told the three outlets. The saddest part was about his last visit with Cory, when he came to Fire Island in New York with Lea to visit Ryan. Ryan questioned whether Cory was sober since he was acting strange, and Cory assured him he was.

On helping Cory go to rehab in March
It’s hard to even explain how personally upsetting it is. You know, we were a group of people who went through something that happens once in a lifetime, and I was close to Cory and Lea and I was also someone who was very involved in wanting to get Cory sober. We had an incident in March, which has been reported on, where we found out he was using again and staged an intervention in my office with a lot of appropriate people. He wanted to continue working and we said, ‘That’s not an option. No. The TV show doesn’t matter, your life matters.’ So we booked a rehab and a facility and Cory has always been, always was, a strong-willed and very sweet child and I always said, he felt like an older son to me. He and I had a very interesting, once-in-a-lifetime relationship, so I was very surprised that he went so readily.

His last words to me were, “I want to get better,” and I always felt and continue to feel even in his death that he did, that he really wanted to fight it and he was humiliated and shamed. We reassured him that the only thing that mattered was him getting better and his job was 100 percent protected because he thought he was going to get fired. That has been feeding into all of this, why it’s so shocking and so debilitating and tragically sad because we were all rooting for him and trying to help him in every way that we could, so it feels even more devastating. It also feels in some weird way like I failed, even though I know that that’s the plight of addicts, so what can you do? But it’s just really hard and really upsetting. I feel like we did everything that we could and I know that Lea feels she did everything that she could.

On the last time he saw Cory
A couple of weeks ago, he and Lea came to Fire Island where we were shooting The Normal Heart, and I honestly couldn’t tell what was going on with him. He didn’t seem quite himself, but when I confronted him he claimed he was clean. It has been a very difficult roller coaster ride, and all through that, and through the last week, Lea has been the most brave and courageous person I’ve ever met. She has dealt with an impossible situation with more humanity than you could ever hope for.

On the future of the show
The right thing to do for the show, at least at this point, is to have that character pass. When we do the tribute episode to that character, we’ll have to do it in a way where the castmembers will not have to re-create feelings of grief that they’ve had this week — but do it in an upbeat way, If we can do this responsibly and help young people through these feelings, that’s the best that we can hope for.

On how he decided the future of the show
Once you’re faced with this situation, which is devastating…There’s really no way to win in this situation. So our position was, do we go off the air permanently? Do we go off the air until November? Do we start shooting again in January? But the thing that we ultimately found was that our cast and crew wanted to be together, they wanted to go back to work, they wanted to sort of be in a place where they could all remember and discuss Cory sooner than later. As for me, I really had no set opinion. I was willing to do what people wanted.

On who made the decision
Ultimately the person who made the decision was Lea, who felt that the best thing for the cast and crew was to be together and to get back to work and be together every day and talk about our memories of him. So we decided to do that with Lea’s blessing and we’re going to go back to work and have grief counselors on the set for two weeks because people are really hurting.

[From Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter and E! Online]

In his interview with E!, Ryan made it clear that they’re all “following Lea’s lead” and added that “I think she’s handled this with a great amount of decency and grace and privacy.

There’s news that Lea visited the memorial set up for Cory outside the Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver, where he died and where fans have gathered to pay tribute. She’s said to be “inconsolable” and “barely eating,”. That tabloid portrait of her is not consistent with what Ryan Murphy is saying, that she’s the one deciding how Glee will move forward and that she’s been the most “brave and courageous” person. Someone can be both courageous in their actions and suffering in ways that are unseen. I just hope Lea has her friends and family around her.

Note that some outlets are reporting that Cory’s “last words” to Ryan were “I want to get better.” That was the last thing Cory said to him before entering rehab in March. Ryan makes it clear in other interviews (quoted above) that he saw and spoke to Cory after that, this summer, and that Cory told him he was sober.

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71 Responses to “Glee’s Ryan Murphy on the future of the show: Lea ‘made the decision’”

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  1. Tony says:

    She’s a fame-hungry diva. Of course the show will go on.

    • MsCatra says:

      Another comment full of love, understanding, and sympathy from Tony.

    • Faye says:

      Let me tell you about my personal experience after suffering a tragic loss. I got up as soon as I could and plunged back into work, volunteering, etc., and stayed as busy as I possibly could. Several months after the loss, I heard someone talk about me behind my back at a function (the ladies room, source of many overheard conversations). She said,”How could she be here, acting like nothing’s happened? Man, she’s cold.” That comment hurt and enraged me like nothing you can imagine. People deal with death differently, and for some people they need activity and productivity to help them cope. Not everybody goes in for big displays of grief and taking to their beds.

      Beyond that, there are the careers and livelihoods of all the cast and crew to think of. Should they just go jobless because of Lea’s mourning? I commend her for going back to work. Even if some of her wanting to do that is “selfish,” she is a young woman with her whole life ahead of her. She needs a career; her life didn’t end with Cory’s, since in this society we don’t burn women on the pyre when their significant others die, too. SHAME on anyone who judges Lea for wanting to keep working.

      Beyond any other consideration,I am sure Cory would not have wanted Lea to continue working.

      • NerdMomma says:

        Amen. This is all that needs to be said!

      • Faye says:

        I meant to say Corey WOULD have wanted Lea to keep working.

      • mssnarnd says:

        Faye – my heart goes out to you if you have lost someone close. I had a similar experience a few years ago, although my husband lived. The hospital went and got the Chaplain and they told me he wasn’t going to make it. My husband was in a coma for 10 days; then, moved him to ICU for three weeks . . . and he lived. I had two small children to think of at the time and I was in utter shock. I’ve known this man since I was twelve years old. People talked behind my back, too – acted like I should be at home strung out on tranquilizers with a blanket over my head. But my kids still had to eat, go to school, go to activities. I had to keep life as normal as I could for them.

        We all deal with grief differently. The psychologist I had to see for over a year after the situation “got me better” – even said those words, “Everyone is different when it comes to dealing with the pain of losing / almost losing someone.”

      • Faye says:

        @mssnarnd – Yes, I did lose someone close to me. I can only imagine how tough it was for you going through that, and with two kids as well! Good for you for holding yourself together; I hope you had a lot of support.

        Is your husband well now, if you don’t mind my asking?

      • Nanz says:


        You rock.



      • mssnarnd says:

        Faye – he did live! His body was overtaken by the streptococcus virus – and it started to shut his organs down, one by one. He did end up losing some body appendages; but, he was eventually able to recover and go back to work.

        It’s a VERY SCARY disease.

        We remain positive and upbeat as a family. We “joke” that we own a wing of that hospital ;-)

      • msw says:

        You didn’t get the memo telling you there is only one way to grieve?

        I have lost a brother as a child and I have also volunteered at a bereavement center off and on for the past six years. I have never seen two people grieve the exact same way, even grieving fir the same family member. The day after my brother died I kept to a completely normal routine. If I hadn’t done something normal, I would have gone crazy. And I give you credit for not punching those bitches.

      • mssnarnd says:

        msw – thank you for your human kindness and understanding. So many people said, “Well, she is certainly acting very weird.” Well,of course I was acting “weird” – we met when we were twelve years old . . . and now we were both 43 years of age at this point in time – with two little children to worry about. People were JUST HORRIBLE about every little detail . . . as I said earlier, “She’s acting weird, she’s saying weird things, she’s sleeping too much.” My, oh, my . . . I could do ANYTHING RIGHT – even though I had loved and supported this man since we were twelve.

        Of course, his health is our number one priority. But I am not sure if I will EVER be the same person again (and I do not mean that in a positive way). I still try to laugh for my kids; but, a lot of times it’s forced (and they are so intuitive, I think they know I am faking it). Sad.

    • Stef Leppard says:

      Is she supposed to just curl up and die too? Life goes on, even if you don’t want it to.

    • Marigold says:

      When is this troll getting tossed?

    • Kitten Mittens says:

      Yes, she is fame hungry. She’s been this way and we’ve all talked about it at length on this site a lot. Is she milking this tragic loss of her bf and cast mate to forward her career? No. She possibly just wants to stay busy. That’s a totally normal reaction. If she went out and wanted to give an interview to every outlet and get paid for it I might find that sketch, but she’s greiving.
      She’s still driven and “fame hungry”, but it’s not driving her actions right now. Greif is.

    • drdoolittling says:

      Well, please, enlighten us as to how she is supposed to act throughout this ordeal, according to the World of Tony? I have seen ONE picture of her, from a distance, and have heard nothing come from her, except blanket PR statements. Should she not come out of hiding for the next three months? Should the show just stop indefinitely on her word, when 100′s of people are depending on their paycheck? Such an obviously and uncalled for comment.

      I guess I am just curious why you feel the need to be so cruel to someone going through something so devastating. Regardless of whether or not she can be a b*tch, regardless of whether she enjoys fame (which I do not believe AT ALL, esp. given how she has been behaving this past week), she lost an extraordinarily important person in her life. I think your statement speaks much more about who you are as a person, and I gotta be honest, quite glad i do not know you nor someone as bitter and callous as you.

  2. Mrs.Darcy says:

    The whole thing is so sad. Unfortunately it sounds like his intervention/rehab stint were not 100% his decision, so maybe that’s why it didn’t stick. I think they are taking it in the only possible direction they could have (other than ending it), I haven’t watched the show for a couple of years but always liked Cory in it – I had the impression his character wasn’t as central anymore? I would not be hugely shocked if Lea eventually embraces the grieving widow publicity this will bring her. I don’t know how they can have him die and not have her character have some sort of reaction to it though, and the thought of having to do that for most would be unfathomably painful. I think it will help the young fans of the show to grieve and move on though. Such a sad waste, he seemed like a nice guy with a bright future.

    • Lindy79 says:

      I thought the same, it sounds like he was given an ultimatum which is what most people in their position would have done but if he didn’t do it of his own accord, he either wasn’t ready to admit it to himself or didn’t want to. I would say that a part of him clearly wanted help but the other part won out. It’s such a genuinely sad situation.

      I can only imagine how hard it is for addicts in that industry.

    • m says:

      He went to rehab for 30 days when herion addicts are in rehab for 6 months. Thats why it didnt stick. He got help, just not the help he needed.

  3. Summer says:

    Really Tony? Really? This poor young woman has lost her boyfriend , but you just see her as a fame hungry diva?
    What a shameful comment.

  4. chibichichai says:

    no matter how much insufferable brat she has reported to be my heart goes out to the girl. I can’t imagine how inconsolable she is feeling right now

  5. hannah says:

    On a shallow note , he was the best looking guy on that show.

  6. brin says:

    My heart goes out to his family.

  7. Birdie says:

    Before all this I didn’t like Lea, she had an insufferable vibe. She hadn’t the nicest reputation. But now I feel just sorry for her. This is a young woman losing her love. Simply tragic.

  8. Samtha says:

    I don’t know that the depictions of her are mutually exclusive. Grief is a funny thing. You can be strong and “okay” one minute and then crying hysterically the next.

    How will they manage to do a tribute episode without bringing everyone’s grief up to the surface, though? I can’t imagine any kind of scenario where the actors wouldn’t have to relive what they’re feeling now.

  9. Sloane Wyatt says:

    Cory’s passing is so very sad. The pain that young man struggled with is heart rending.

  10. Sherry says:

    I don’t know how they’re going to make the character die, yet have the show be upbeat? I understand the wanting to remember the good times, but losing someone you love is always painful. How can they not relive the pain they feel while filming an episode about his character’s demise?

    • Mrs.Darcy says:

      I can only presume they will address it dramatically, but finish with a somewhat corny/uplifting song to make people feel better if possible, as opposed to completely despondent. A lot of very upset teenagers will be watching closely, am sure they know the responsibility on their shoulders.

    • Nina says:

      Yeah, that just sounds like all kinds of bad salad.

      “…we’ll have to do it in a way where the castmembers will not have to re-create feelings of grief that they’ve had this week — but do it in an upbeat way…”

      Uh…given the circumstances, I think it’s entirely understandable for the show to address the situation from a more serious angle. I don’t like how this sounds.

  11. Turvioletviolet says:

    Wow, fame hungry diva? That’s strong in these particular circumstances. Apart from anything hundreds of people’s livelihoods depend on that show so I suspect she feels she has little choice.
    I feel desperately sad for her and I think her behaviour this week (the privacy she has managed to maintain) has been as ‘good’ as it possibly have been. However she acts there will be people who will crucify her for it.

  12. Faye says:

    Ryan Murphy was a lot more open about Cory’s addiction than I thought he would be. I don’t always agree with everything Murphy says and does, but I commend him for telling Cory the show doesn’t matter, just get into rehab. I think Murphy’s interviews were candid but sensitive to everyone involved.

    I agree with him 100% that no matter how he handles this, they lose. If they make up some silly story about Finn’s character running away, people will be upset and feel that his memory isn’t being honored. If they go the route of saying the character is dead, the cast have to deal with the duality of their being real-life people mourning Cory’s death. There’s no good way to resolve this, so he should just do what they agree on.

    I’ve seen a lot of negative comments about Lea, and it really rankles me. I do think she can be diva-ish, but by all accounts she was a loving and supportive girlfriend to Cory, and people have no right to judge her for wanting to go back to work.

    I haven’t watched Glee in years, but I wish them all well, and hope they find a measure of peace in continuing to work together.

    • Lucy2 says:

      I agree- I am not a fan of Murphy in general, but I think he really tried here, and wants to do what’s best for everyone.
      Maybe they will have the character pass away and then jump forward in time so they don’t have to show the immediate grief. Whatever they do, I feel for Lea and the others having to do it.

  13. CC says:

    Lea is a hardworker, she just exudes energy, and I bet the way she uses to cope is by keeping herself as busy as possible instead of willingly letting the sadness defeat her.

  14. Blaine says:

    Hey, Ryan Murphy,

    In memorium, for those 3 precious episodes, consider titling your show… GLEEF

    Just a thought.

    Blaine (my real name, born with it)

  15. L says:

    don’t feed the troll ya’ll

    Grief can be weird. Falling apart one day, pushing through and being strong the next. I think Lea’s thinking of her coworkers and trying to put on a strong face for them to help them through it, and falling apart when she’s on her own. Makes sense to me.

  16. Dawn says:

    I think she made the right decision. Get the death of the character over in a three episode arc and then take time off to mourn her loss. When she gets back to work in the winter it will be easier than having Finn replace (couldn’t anyway) or dealing with the character’s death.

  17. Amelia says:

    This whole situation apart seems to me like the upsetting of the apple cart. Yes, Cory was an addict who wasn’t living on the wagon. However it has consistently been said that he did not allow his behavior to permeate to the set, and was a consummate professional when working. Why would they force someone functioning so well into rehab? Thus forcing him to further conceal such behavior when it continued? In the end the outcome has been tragic, and there is no blame to be assigned to friends and family left behind. I hope for the best for all involved and the show.

    • Jade says:

      It is alleged that Cory was living a double life; he took pains to remain professional in LA but reverted to old habits when back in Canada. If indeed true, I do think the intervention was necessary. Wouldn’t you care about your colleague? Wouldn’t you care about his future in the show even though he appears normal on set? What we see on tv is just the final polished product. His team mates could have seen him faltering in the later seasons culminating in the March incident above and tried to help.

      I think this reiterates again that you have to have a longer, more immersive rehab session than just one month. And you need to get rid of the enablers. His death reminded me of Robert Downey Jr and his wife. His wife was the strong person he needed to guide Robert to the correct path, to the extent of being (wrongly?) labelled as a controlling wife in a previous gossip item.

  18. jess says:

    Every time I read more about this story it just reminds me again of how terrifying addiction is, both for the addict and the people who love him/her.

  19. Poutinessky says:

    Wow, Tony is a guy? Straight and that bitchy?? On a gossip website? Getting attention from real girl in real life isnt that easy, right Tony? ;)

  20. Bodhi says:

    All of this makes me wonder if Lea knew that rehab didn’t take.

    • Jag says:

      That’s what I’m confused about. Murphy noticed that Cory was acting strangely, but his own girlfriend didn’t? Was she in denial that he wasn’t sober? Was she partying with him? Why was he alone in a hotel room, rather than with someone who could help him with his addiction(s)? It’s none of my business but these are some major questions.

      As for her dictating whether the show continues or not, it’s nice of him to ask her, but there are a lot of people who should have say-so regarding that instead.

  21. Sisi says:

    This is the nicest interview Murphy has ever given

    • mom2two says:

      Usually I find Ryan Murphy to be rather insufferable but these interviews, he came across very well. I think it is obvious he cares very much about these people and I think, no matter what your personal opinion of Lea Michele is, that it was the right call to get her input on how to proceed further.

  22. diva says:

    I send my prayers to all of them cause dealing with losing someone is extremely hard. I’m not a fan of Lea but I hope she doesn’t try to fame whore this incident and just grieves without a bunch of interviews about him. I felt like Michelle Williams did that for some time after Heath passed.

    • Kristin says:

      Michelle Williams didn’t talk about Heath for a long time, but when she was in the middle of an Oscar campaign she finally “opened up.” That’s how the game is played during award season, so I don’t really blame her for it.

      Lea will have to talk about it publicly sooner or later – all the magazines will be competing for that story. She’ll never be able to give an interview again without being asked about Cory. Hopefully her people won’t push her to talk too soon, or choose a sleazy tabloid that pays for the story. Perhaps it will be later this year, or maybe she’ll wait until she’s moving on to another project after Glee. These days, every major celebrity life event (e.g. BABIES!) winds up being used as a promotional tie-in, and tragedies are no exception.

  23. Whatevah, Ryan Murphy is too high on his Glee horse to even think about cancelling the show. Other shows haven’t done it in the past, so why even hint that he was thinking about it?

  24. the original bellaluna says:

    I think it was very kind of Murphy to let Lea decide how she’d like to handle Cory’s death on the show. And I think it was very kind of Lea to consider the rest of the cast and crew and their needs, as well.

    Prayers to his loved ones, friends, and fans.

  25. Saddie says:

    I find it interesting since the start of Glee why Cory was selected from a huge casting call for his role.
    There are so many young, extremely talented, unaddicted kids out there with fabulous voices, cute and oh so brillant – why Cory?
    My guess would be that they know these kids will self-destruct at some point during the life of the show to generate tons of free press. I’m not bashing Cory he wasn’t an amazing talent and so often when watching the show he looked vacant and absent, God bless him. Producers knew he would crash and burn – it was just a matter of time.

  26. Jenna says:

    I went through something similar a few years ago and without getting into specifics, the only thing I wanted to do was stay in bed all day every day. After a few days I couldn’t handle that so I started trying to throw myself into other things. I was in college at the time and all my professors knew what was going on (my boyfriend was in the same major as me and we shared a few classes). They had made it very clear that they would work with me to give me some time away and I could reschedule things and not come to certain classes.

    It was incredibly hard to go back right away but I didn’t want anyone to work around me and my grief. I was so afraid that if I didn’t pick up and go back to being a normal student, then everyone would see me as weak and pity me. I was also really afraid that if I did take time away other people in my classes would resent me getting special treatment or that I would take more time than everyone thought was appropriate. I was just hanging on a string and didn’t want to do anything that could be taken the wrong way. I just kinda pushed my grief out of the way and tried to keep going.

    A lot of people thought that I did a great job of moving on and staying strong and that I “showed a lot of courage”. I heard all of that and was shocked because I felt like I was holding on by a string. I got all these compliments but I wasn’t dealing, I was just pushing it through.

    Don’t judge how people choose to grieve. I would say you don’t know until you are in their shoes, but even then 2 different people will react differently in the same situation. Stop trying to read into what her actions mean or her intentions. Grief is a complex thing where you can have your moments of strength and you moments of unparalled emptiness.

  27. Kemper says:

    It is possible to appear brave one minute and falling apart the next when you have suffered a loss.

  28. jilly says:

    There’s something to this story that I just don’t buy. I don’t want to be accused of being mean but this just isn’t adding up for me.

  29. Denise says:

    Another cursed Canadian Cory. I don’t really care about the aftermath of the show, I just find his death heartbreaking.

  30. Fatty Cakes says:

    This is purely about TV & characters, it’s not intended to trivialize the real life grief Lea Michelle and others are dealing with. I know she wanted (and probably needed) to get back to work, but I kinda wish she’d let herself be written out of Glee so that they could’ve sent out Rachel & Finn in a “happily ever after” kind of way.

    I just remember how brutal it was as a fan to watch the episodes of The West Wing that dealt with Leo McGarry’s death after John Spencer (the actor that portrayed him) died. They didn’t have a choice given the storyline at the time, but it was like a double heaping of depression, mourning for the actor we’d admired and then even more for the character we’d grown to love. Since fans often develop strong emotional attachments to fictional characters, it seems like if an actor they admire dies, it’d be more of a comfort to think of the character as living on (unseen, but happy).

    But even having written all that, I’m sure any fan who’s stuck with Glee this long will appreciate however the episodes & tribute turn out.

  31. Carolyn says:

    I’m sure Ryan Murphy has taken a lot of PR advice before he gave the impression that he considered Lea’s feelings. The excerpts above have been beautifully scripted to create an appropriate, respectful impression.

    Glee is such a cash cow there’s no way he would have considered cancelling it.

  32. decemberist15 says:

    Is it bad that the first thing that came to my head about Lea ‘barely eating’ was ‘excuse to justify her ED’?

    I’m sure she’s going through a lot, young love is beautiful, passionate and hard to get over; but I found that part a little suspicious. Hmm…