11:17pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'The Glee Project' Adds Jane Lynch, Chris Colfer, Amber Riley as Mentors
Glee stars Jane Lynch, Chris Colfer and Amber Riley are headed to Oxygen's The Glee Project.
Following a TV Academy Emmy consideration panel Thursday night in North Hollywood, Glee co-creator -- and Glee Project executive producer -- Ryan Murphy told reporters that the trio -- along with three-time Season 1 guest Darren Criss -- would be serving as guest mentors.
"The funny thing about the mentors for this season is that the Glee cast really wanted to do it," Murphy said. "The first season, they did not want to do it but then they all watched the show and they became fans of the show and for the most part they called me and said, 'I want to do it!' Lea [Michele] does, it Cory [Monteith] does it, Naya [Rivera] does it, Amber [Riley] does it, Darren does it, Chris Colfer does it, they all do it. Jane does it. They each have an episode."
The lively panel kicked off with Glee Project Season 1 winners Damian McGinty, Samuel Larsen and Alex Newell teaming for a group performance -- Lindsay Pearce was on vocal rest -- with Murphy stressing both during the panel and afterward that Season 2 would see just one winner.
"There is just one; it's not like me at all," he told reporters. "They were adamant that there was one winner."
Murphy told the packed house that he had no idea until the day before the finals that he would give multiple episode arcs to all four of the finalists. "I honestly thought there was a place for all four of them on the show," he said, noting Glee's need to feature singers in competing groups at events like Nationals and Regionals.
"A lot of times when we're doing them, we have to cast the lead singer of that group, for example Lindsay played that this year and Alex played one of those people this year. I thought, there's such a need for that, so I think we're going to have a four-way tie," he added. "They said, 'You can't do that.' I begged them and we did the two guys, who I thought would be great in the choir room and I loved Lindsay and Alex so much that we wrote those two roles for them."
"Hopefully they will be back on the show again this year in those characters. But you'll notice the posters this year say, 'Only One Will Win,'" he said with a laugh. "I call it an inspiration contest but it's a contest and there is a real legitimate prize that is among the best prizes of any prizes in reality television."
As for Season 4 of the flagship series -- on which the winner of Glee Project's second season will receive a seven-episode arc -- Murphy told reporters that the writers have returned to work breaking the first episode this week.
While all of the cast members of the Fox musical dramedy are set to return, Murphy reaffirmed that talks are under way to see who returns in what capacity. "We're literally just writing the first script now," he said. "We're figuring out who's doing what, who's coming back."
Pressed for details on how the series will incorporate characters like Riley's Mercedes and Harry Shum Jr.'s Mike -- whose story lines took them to L.A. and the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, both outside of Season 4 locations Ohio and New York -- Murphy was vague.
"I want them to come back, I think it'll be a different way," he said. "We haven't figured it out but I know what the stories are, I just don't know how many episodes. We want to keep all our options open. I think I have to talk to the actors and say, 'What do you want to do?' That's how we've been dealing with it. I've only talked to Lea so far. That's all happening in the next two weeks."
As for how Monteith's Finn would be handled, with the character enlisting in the Army, Murphy was tight-lipped, only offering that it was a "big secret."
Murphy, who was in a jovial mood Thursday, said working on the fourth season felt "energized" and pointed to new cast members Kate Hudson and Sarah Jessica Parker, who will both recur early on. (Murphy told THR last month that Hudson will likely begin her arc in the Season 4 premiere, with Parker appearing a few episodes afterward.)
Oxygen declined comment on what episodes Lynch, Colfer, Riley and Criss would be mentoring.