Tuesday, May 12, 2009

FREE TO BE...YOU AND GLEE



Last night I was fortunate enough to attend the premiere of Glee, the new Fox series. I've already done a post about how much I loved the pilot, and thanks to my friend Robert I was able to be among the enormous crowd at Santa Monica High School for the semi-private event. And what an event it was!


Red Carpet / Pre-Event Entertainment

The cast was making their entrances on the red carpet as we arrived, so we helped ourselves to the complimentary Glee slushies and popcorn. If you've seen the pilot already (or maybe you've watched it 20-something times like me), you know that the slushies were a very tongue-in-cheek refreshment. Kudos, Fox promotional people! As we sat down in the outdoor amphitheater, we were treated to performances by SMH's Jazz Band and Show Choir - talented kids, for sure. And they were actual kids, too...as opposed to most of the cast who probably haven't seen the inside of a high school for a few years. But I digress.



The Pilot
They screened the pilot, but not in its original form. I had heard that Fox was probably going to have to cut down the episode for time - the original ran for 52 minutes, I believe - and they definitely made some changes. I wasn't a fan of the weird editing and omission of a whole musical number, but I realize that I'm the excpetion. You know, because I've seen it 20-something times and have it all memorized at this point. Anyone watching this version when it airs on May 19th likely won't even notice the difference. The fact of the matter is this: it's still Glee, which makes it automatically still incredible.



The Panel Discussion

The writers/producers and the entire cast came out to answer some generic questions from an LA Times moderator, but it was more entertaining than it was informative. Jane Lynch really stole the show on stage, and it was a good thing...in between her barbs it was almost crickets. Then of course it was time for audience questions, which always make me cringe. Teenage girls asking if the boys have girlfriends...middle-aged aspiring songwriters....a "pseudo-agent" trying to get her daughter to sing for everyone...it literally makes me nauseated. But to their credit, the cast was on the whole time. Laughing, joking with each other - it's hard to believe they really haven't all known each other for very long. There was a great vibe on stage.



Post-Event / Meet & Greet

For the next 30 minutes after the event was over, I had the extraordinary pleasure of getting to chat with some of the cast. Of the kids, I was able to speak with Chris Colfer (Kurt), Amber Riley (Mercedes) and Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina). While they're all unique, talented individuals, they had one thing in common - they were all so excited. They were relative unknowns before Glee, and when I was talking to them they had just finished their first premiere. The energy and enthusiasm (not to mention how thankful and gracious they all were) was really refreshing to see.

Of the adults, I got the chance to have longer conversations with Jayma Mays (Emma) and Jessalyn Gilsig (Terri). I've always thought Jayma was fantastic, and talking to her was an utter delight. So appreciative and upbeat, she officially became one of my favorite actresses. Maybe even simply one of my favorite people.



Jessalyn was just as personable, and it was very kind of her to take as much time to talk to me as she did. I loved how much she enjoyed talking about the show, too. It's motivating to see an actor believe so much in a project, and Jessalyn definitely does. While talking about the quotability of the show, I had to bring up "Don't go in the Christmas closet!" - and she promised me that said-closet will be featured more as the show goes on. It's fascinating to see what different people latch onto from one episode. Discussing the 'message' of the show, she had this to say (as close to verbatim as my memory will allow):

"Watching the episode tonight, I really realized how important it is...about only living a life that you feel passionately about. Everyone can identify."

To me, that's always been such a huge part of what makes the show so special. We also talked about the brilliant costume designer ("We always tell her, 'Go home already!', but she can't. It's her baby.") and the excitement of seeing how much of a following the show already has ("Were all these people seeing this for the first time? It's like they already knew the lines!"). A truly great conversation. I also saw Cory Monteith (Finn) and Matthew Morrison (Will), but didn't get a chance to say anything. It's absolutely for the best, since there's a chance I would have embarassed myself in front of the attractive ones.

Overall, it was a really fantastic event. I feel so lucky to have been able to attend the premiere for a brand new show - especially one that I already consider one of my favorites. And this is after seeing only the pilot! Ryan Murphy and Company definitely (hopefully) have a hit on their hands, and I can't wait to see the further adventures of these kids and adults alike. Make sure you watch on May 19th at 9pm!

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