'Glee' Lovefest Scores Record Attendance - PaleyFest Report
by John Scott Lewinski, posted Mar 14th 2010 7:00PM
Saturday night's 'Glee' panel at the PaleyFest 2010 festival scored an all-time attendance record as a fire marshal's nightmare throng of screaming fans flooded into the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills.
Other panels during this 2010 session served up enthusiastic crowds -- especially 'Lost' and Seth MacFarlane's appearance -- but the 'Glee' crowd had the feel of a rock concert gathering, producing more applause and squeals per creator and cast member than any event this year's PaleyFest provided.
While the exact crowd figure was unavailable at the venue last night, this is how crazy it was: As a registered media member and AOL TV Squad's resident correspondent for this year's PaleyFest, I couldn't get a seat. I'd already covered several events this year, so the PaleyFest organizers were kind enough to sneak me in without a proper ticket, and I had to watch the event either on closed-circuit monitors in the lobby or through cracks in curtains from the balcony so as not to deny any 'Glee' fan a seat. And, I'm grateful to the organizers for welcoming us.
A constant stream of cheers greeted the gathered a collection 'Glee' cast and creators that proved almost too big for the stage. Fans got a look at Ryan Murphy (co-creator/executive producer), Dante Di Loreto (executive producer), Brad Falchuk (co-creator/executive producer) and Ian Brennan (co-creator/executive producer), as well as stars Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Jessalyn Gilsig, Jane Lynch, Jayma Mays, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Matthew Morrison, Amber Riley, Mark Salling and Jenna Ushkowitz.
The night began with a special preview of an episode from the second half of this season -- the 14th episode that will bring the show back from hiatus. It's set to air in April. Personally, I lost most of the best lines in both dialogue and song lyrics under the crowd's roaring approval. But, without piling on spoilers, this season relaunch seemed to base itself more on developing character relationships than merely piling on the comedic or musical situations. Hint: Look for new developments between Colfer and Monteith and their families as the new season episodes approach.
Executive producer Murphy did most of the talking during the evening -- or at least he answered first and yielded the floor for his cast and creative team. He was eager to let fans in on news for upcoming shows. For example, he confirmed that Neil Patrick Harris will appear in a special episode directed by Joss Whedon. And he unveiled more details on the much-rumored Madonna-centric episode.
Murphy revealed that post-hiatus episodes include songs by The Beatles, The Doors, Lionel Richie and Neil Diamond. And, producers are in negotiations with The Rolling Stones.
Without a shred of modesty, Murphy said artists are lining up to be covered on the show because, "Whenever we do a new song on the show, the original recording always gets back on the charts."
Murphy gave the impression that it was a little difficult getting Madonna to sign off on her special 'Glee' -- but his crew pulled if off. "Madonna does not call you. You call Madonna," Murphy said. "But it's exciting for all of us. She provided the soundtrack of our lives."
The event turned into a more serious affair as Murphy discussed his history as a gay teenager and high school musical enthusiast. He admitted that Colfer's character (Kurt) is based largely on him.
"Most of the scenes between (Kurt) and his father (Mike O'Malley) are based on conversations I had with my dad as a teenager," Murphy said. "I was out as a teenager and proud of it. So, I hope that Kurt is a role model for a new generation of gay teenagers."
"So, I'm not interested in the character being gay-bashed," he said. "I'm not interested in seeing him be picked on."
Based on the love oozing from the PaleyFest crowd, there's little chance Kurt -- or 'Glee' -- being picked on anytime soon.