This year will see a little less Glee, and that’s probably a good thing, not only for your Journey-bludgeoned ears, but also for the show. Vulture has learned that Fox is scrapping its previously announced plans to air a reality competition designed to cast unknown singers in the show. The reason: Glee creator Ryan Murphy wants to keep his focus on producing the main series, and overseeing another brand extension would end up being a distraction that could hurt the show.
Fox unveiled the never-titled reality project last January at the same time it confirmed it was renewing Glee for a second season. It solicited audition videos on ye olde MySpace from contestants who wanted to compete for one of three new roles on the show; the ensuing happy-off would be filmed for an American Idol–like multipart special that would lead up to the season-two premiere. “There’s never really been an unscripted program like this on television before,” Fox reality overlord Mike Darnell promised at the time.
Now there still won’t be. Though they collected the tryout videos, Murphy and Fox execs have since quietly agreed to kill the on-air competition after it became clear that working on the reality show would mean less time for planning season two (and the recently announced season three). As it is, Murphy and his team have already had their schedules crowded by such extracurricular events as the brief Glee live tour, multiple hit soundtrack albums, a trip to the White House, and, of course, Oprah.
Fox execs didn’t fight to keep the show alive. They saw merit in Murphy’s desire not to be sidetracked (perhaps remembering what happened when the producers of Heroes got too ambitious planning the many ways to spin it off after a hit first season). Plus, the reality competition was essentially a publicity stunt, and with Glee now a bona fide phenom as opposed to just a promising newcomer, the network no longer needed the extra hype.
So what about all those young folks who uploaded videos of themselves belting out “True Colors” and other Glee-friendly hits? Don’t put mittens on those jazz hands yet: While the reality show is dead, Murphy and his producing team still plan on choosing several winners from the online casting competition and giving them a spot on Glee (at least for one episode). In a way, it’s win-win: You get to sing on the show, but you don’t have to have to be exploited by a reality-TV crew in the process.