The Glee Project – Oxygen’s Reality Darling Gets an Emmy Push

The Emmy nominations are due to be announced in July and ahead of that Oxygen planned a panel and performance from some of the shows cast & creators as a push for its reality series The Glee Project, a show about trying to find talent to add to the “Mothership” (as referred to by show Creator, Executive Producer, and Writer, Ryan Murphy), Glee. The show probably stands a fair chance of being nominated. It’s something different, and its first season was well received (whether the same can be said of its winners when they made their debut on Glee is debatable).

The night started off with a clip montage to give the audience a taster of what Season One of The Glee Project was all about. I must admit to having only watched the last few episodes of the Season as I’m not a big reality fan, so much of the video footage shown was new to me. I do find the idea fascinating, though a little frustrating. There seems to be too much emphasis on the ability to sing and dance, when really what Glee needs is actors who just happen to be able to also sing and dance. The show has proven already that it’s far easier to hide a poor singer and dancer than it is to hide a poor actor. Which you really would expect from a television program.

Still, the kids on TGP are likable enough, and you do find yourself rooting for them regardless. After the clip montage I may have to give the show itself a second shot, and from the beginning this time. At least the audience has been guaranteed that there will most definitely be only one winner this time – unlike last year when Murphy surprised everyone by naming not one. Not two. But four winners. According to his remarks later in the night, this was not really something that Oxygen was happy with. It must be said, the best part of the montage was actually watching the cast reactions to themselves on-screen. Lyndsay Pearce (one of the winners of a two episode arc), Cameron Mitchell and Hannah McLalwain (who were in the audience, but not members of the panel) were all seen to be laughing or cringing at their on-screen personas.

Alex Newell belts out “And You’re Gonna Love Me”

Next the audience was treated to performances of several show favorites – Alex Newell, Samuel Larsen, and Damian McGinty performed My Chemical Romance’s “Sing.” McGinty performed Bobby Darin’s classic “Beyond The Sea,” while Larsen put on a show with Neon Trees “Animal.” Darren Criss brought out his guitar for an acoustic cover of the song that put him on the map, Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” which he hoped we weren’t all sick of hearing yet (we really aren’t). And rounding out the evenings performances was Newell, who blew the audience away with “And I Am Telling You” from the Broadway Musical, Dreamgirls. The final of the 4 Season One winners, Pearce, was unable to perform as promised because of a need to rest her voice.

David Burtka was our moderator for the evening and introduced the full panel: Murphy, Criss, Robert Ulrich (casting director on both Glee and The Glee Project), Zach Woodlee (co-producer and choreographer for both shows), Eric White (music video director on The Glee Project), Larsen, McGinty, Newell, and Pearce. It was a panel of many insights into just what the Glee world is like, and a few tidbits about where it might be going.

  • Murphy knows exactly what the last scene of the last episode of Glee is.
  • Next year there will be even more new characters added. Though as there will be only one “winner” of TGP, it is to be assumed that most of these characters will come through the traditional casting process.
  • Murphy feels the beauty of TGP is that you get to grow and feel for these kids, and you honestly want them all to win. Plus, they feel that themselves. They are largely all experiencing this feeling of being in a room full of people who love the same things, and want the same things, and so it’s a feeling of home that many people don’t get to experience in the same way.
  • When Murphy came to the producers and said there would be a four-way tie he was told he couldn’t do that. But he felt that there was so much to write for the four contestants, what with the ability to include Pearce and Newell as performers during the competitions, which are roles that would need to be filled anyway, that he pushed for the outcome. There may have been begging.
  • Murphy teased that he hoped to bring both Newell and Pearce back in some capacity during the 4th Season of Glee. Later elaborating that he would like to see what it would be like for a transgender character like Newell’s Wade “Unique” Adams to walk down the halls of a school in women’s clothing. This seems to add fuel to the fire of the belief that S4 will see Unique’s transfer to McKinley and the New Directions.
  • After Murphy laments the fact that all the posters for TGP Season 2 include the words “Only One Will Win” Burtka insists that Murphy is the producer of Glee and really, he can do anything he wants. To which Criss responded “Don’t give him any ideas.”
  • Ulrich confesses that a lot of what they’re looking for when they pick their finalists is who can inspire Murphy to write for them.
  • Woodlee’s impression of Murphy may be one of the funniest things ever. There are no words.
  • The contestants only get 6 hours to work on each of their music videos.
  • Woodlee: It takes only a few episodes for the contestants to realize that just as on the scripted show it takes the whole group working together to make a group product. So they can’t work against each other, they have to work together.
  • According to Woodlee his emotions hurt more on the reality show, but the scripted show is more difficult as a work load.
  • Criss says he would give the same advice to someone working in a kitchen as he would to anyone in Hollywood. “Be generous, be grateful, work hard, and amazing shit will happen.”
  • Newell tells of how he was sure when he first met McLalwain he was sure he wouldn’t like her when she immediately stuck her head out the window yelling about how she could smell the ocean.
  • When asked where he saw himself in ten years, Larsen answered that he’d still be on Glee if they let him. Sweeping the halls of McKinley as a janitor.
After the panel concluded there was a reception for all attendees where the cast & crew were gracious enough to take photos, give autographs, and just generally talk to their fans. Even Criss, who was easily the favorite and was bombarded the minute he hit the floor, entertained requests from the crowd before being whisked away by his publicist to catch a flight.
The Glee Project’s Second Season airs Tuesday nights at 8pm on Oxygen. Glee will return to Fox with a new an intriguing split narrative plot line in Fall of 2012.
Check out the rest of our gallery below, or our Facebook page for additional photos. Also, a friend of the site has uploaded full video of the performances, and the panel on her YouTube page.