Dante Di Loreto interview: ''Glee can be spectacular and intimate''

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Glee's almost back! Yes, here at Digital Spy we're all getting rather excited about visiting Lima, Ohio again to catch up with our favorite McKinley High students. To celebrate the show's upcoming return, we had a chat with the series' executive producer Dante Di Loreto (and we've got interviews with cast members coming up over the next few days). Read on to find out what Dante had to say about working on Glee...

OK, let's start off with a big question...
"Yes! I have no idea."

What would you say is the overriding theme for season three?
"I know that Brad [Falchuk] and Ryan [Murphy] and Ian [Brennan] have some fantastic ideas for the season that they're sharing with the new writers that we've just brought on, but in terms of any broad announcements, just like you I'm sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see what they cook up."

How do you think having a new writing staff will change the show?
"I think hopefully the writers will be able to have the time to enjoy the amazing work they're doing because before what would happen was they'd turn in some fantastic script and we'd all want to sit around and talk about it and how amazing it was, and they were immediately locking themselves in the room to do the next one. It was an unbelievable challenge they set for themselves and it's quite amazing that we pulled it off.

"So hopefully this just sort of normalises things a little bit and lets them have a little bit more private time and personal time. But also I think what's exciting is to bring in fresh voices who are fans of the show to help flesh out all the possible ideas that you could develop with this show. There are 14 amazing, talented actors, all of whom have great potential for story, and hopefully we can explore them."

Some people complained that the second season didn't have enough storylines for certain characters...
"You know, you run out of time. There are 42 minutes in an episode. You know, when we started everybody was wildly enthusiastic about the show, afraid that no-one was going to watch it, and now for so many people we're their favorite show so they all have opinions about what we should or shouldn't be doing. It's a very, very different feeling. 

"Everyone has an opinion about who should be boyfriend of which girl. It's got to come out of the thematics of the episode and what the episode is about. That's what's got to inform everything. The strongest episodes are those that have a really strong, central, thematic core. My joy is getting the script for the first time and turning the pages and having my jaw hit the floor when I read what Sue Sylvester says."

Sue Sylvester said last season that she'd stop being horrible to the glee club. Do you think she really will?
"I don't know. I think she's capable of anything. They did discuss her running for political office, which is a little frightening. I think as a character there are a lot of places she could go that she hasn't been yet."

Are you pleased with the results of The Glee Project?
"I'm very excited about them, yeah. That show was a real joy to work on. It reminded all of us of what finding the stars of Glee was like - that when you have a diverse group of talented people who come to each day with joy to work, it's the greatest job you could have. 

"The only downside is that [all of the contestants] can't all somehow continue on the show in perpetuity - that you have to have a selection process. But they're just really charming, talented people."

There have been a lot of rumors about graduation - what do you make of those?
"To me that's a problem that grows out of the success of the show. If we're lucky enough that we're around long enough that some of these characters have to graduate and move on to other opportunities then that's a wonderful problem to have. I think that how that is handled would have to be revealed as time goes on. 

"I don't think anyone wants to watch a show where you've got a bunch of 30-year-olds pretending they're in high school - then the suspension of disbelief gets pretty absurd. And I think we've shown that the show is durable enough that you can add great talent to it and you're not diminished. Someone like Darren Criss can come on board and really find his place and be accepted by the audience in a really warm way, and that's encouraging for us."

So do you think Glee could survive without stars like Lea Michele and Chris Colfer?
"I would never want to think about doing this show without any of those performers because we're all family right now, so I can't go there. To me it's more about looking at opportunities in terms of bringing new people and less thinking about people graduating."

Speaking of Darren Criss, were you happy with how the Blaine and Kurt storyline worked out in season two?
"Yeah. I mean, I never knew quite where that story was going to go and I still don't. But obviously it's been explored really well and I think there are more surprises to come. And now there are opportunities to explore other characters as well."

Santana and Karofsky had big sexuality storylines too - do you think those will continue?
"I think as long as the storylines are believable, there's no end to where you can go with any of these characters. As long as the audience is along for the ride, I think they all have fascinating stories to tell that are very real to what it's like to be in school, to be a high school kid, to be struggling with identity. Forget high school, a lot of people in college, a lot of adults are trying to come to terms with the same things these kids are, and I think that's what makes the show successful."

As Glee gets more popular it also seems to get more high-profile critics such as Bret Easton Ellis and Glenn Beck. What do you make of their comments?
"I'm fortunate enough that there are enough wonderful words written about the show that I get to read those things. So for instance someone like Bill O'Reilly, the conservative commentator, we're fortunate enough that his daughter is a fan of the show. 

"So he came to see us shoot part of an episode and he came to our concert on the East Coast and he wrote a really beautiful column about the exclusiveness of the show, and for the few people that think there's something subversive about the show it really is this great piece of family-friendly entertainment. 

"Where else can you take your 10-year-old or 14-year-old child and go to a concert and listen to Lady GaGa and Barbra Streisand music and know that you're going to have nothing but just a great, lovely, uplifting time that's inclusive, that teaches people to love and accept a great diversity of people? Anyone who can think of writing anything negative about that I feel sorry for."

Glee has tackled so much in the past - are there any "issues" you think it will deal with in the future?
"Every day there are new challenges, aren't there? Every day. And there are so many characters that we haven't explored, there are so many families of these kids that we haven't met. We talked a little bit about homelessness with Sam and his father who lost his job. 

"I don't know about you, but in my life the more I learn about my friends the more surprised I am about the breadth of their experience, the diversity of their family upbringing and the challenges and the joys that we share. That's hopefully what we're exploring. Hopefully it's like meeting more of your extended family."

Speaking of families, are there any guest stars you'd like to see or are you planning to pull back on those a bit?
"That's not up to me. I'm always excited to see when there's a great guest character written and to wonder who might play that, and really that's where it comes from - it comes from story. If it's Gwyneth Paltrow or Carol Burnett, there's a great story behind that character. Hopefully it's not just a piece of stunt casting.

"We're really, really lucky that so many people want to do the show. Every day there's a phone call about some really gifted actor or actress, musician or comedian who is interested in doing the show. That doesn't happen very often so I'm just grateful that so many people want to do the show."

How do you feel about the tribute episodes?
"I love the challenge. From a production standpoint they're enormous challenges to accomplish which is thrilling. They're an exciting counterpoint to some of our more intimate episodes, but in our more intimate episodes we have a lot of emotion and a lot of heart and I think you need both. I think when the show is firing on both cylinders it can be at once spectacular but also intimate."

Speaking of tributes and guest stars, the rumors can spread so quickly. What's it like working on a show with such a huge fanbase that wants to stay on top of everything?
"It's a little unnerving! It's exciting. You could be working on a show that nobody pays attention to. I'm really happy that everyone's paying close attention to what we're doing and I hope they pay close attention for a long time. I hope we keep their attention. I hope we keep them interested for a long time."

How does Glee balance the humor and the drama?
"That is the gift of our writers. There's a real razor's edge of comedy and drama in this show and it's something that Ryan watched like a hawk in the beginning, in those first few episodes, because it was so easy to go off the rails too far one way or another. 

"There are things that have been written on the page that I thought are the most outrageous things I've seen in my life and I never could imagine how we could get away with doing that, and then you hear it coming out of Jane Lynch's mouth and she is so committed to what she's saying that you think, 'OK, yes, of course'. It's a tribute to the agility of the writers."

Why should we be excited about season three of Glee?
"I think we've just scratched the surface of what we can do in this TV show, both in comedy and in the emotional heart of it. And I think so many great TV shows really begin to hit their stride in the third season, and I'm very hopeful that that's where we're headed."

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