FIRST LOOK: Glee's Biggest, Craziest, Most Expensive Show Ever

 Joe Pugliese

The new Hollywood Reporter goes behind the scenes as the Fox hit relocates its already complicated production 3,000 miles away to NYC.


Patti lupone strides into sardi's at 9:40 a.m. wearing shiny black rain boots and a black cocktail dress (Valentino Red), her hair sprayed into thick clumps of sausage curls. She cuts a razor line through a crush of grips, riggers and random production assistants. One was carrying an aluminum stepladder. She's here to film a cameo -- as her formidable Broadway self -- with Rachel and Finn, who have a "work date" at the famed Theater District eatery.

It took persistence on Murphy's part to secure LuPone for the small role. "I wouldn't take no for an answer," he says. "Obviously, we talk about her very reverentially, and she agreed to do it because she loves the arts and the show. Patti LuPone is New York to me." And to Michele's Rachel, who, in the show's first season, harbored the irrational hope that LuPone was her biological mother. "She's right up there with Barbra for me," says Michele, speaking for herself and Rachel. "That woman goes from show to show, playing lead roles and knocking it out of the park every single time." 

Michele and Monteith are seated at their table on the left side of the restaurant. LuPone is positioned at a banquette against the wall. When LuPone gets up to leave, Rachel nervously blocks her path: "Um, excuse me, Miss LuPone? … You're my idol." LuPone is gracious and instructs the starstruck teenager to "never give up." After a handful of run-throughs, LuPone seems to improvise a salutation: Looking at Finn, she whispers to Rachel, "He's cute." And then heads for the door. Michele approves: "I like that! Ryan, I like that," she says to Murphy. The line stays.

Between takes, Michele gazes at the campy theater-star caricatures that are a Sardi's trademark. "Mine would have a huge mouth," she deadpans. Then, eyeing one of them, she says, "Clay Aiken has a picture here?"

LuPone has a hard out at 11 a.m. in order to make rehearsal for the New York City Ballet's Seven Deadly Sins, opening May 11. The crew gives her a round of applause, and she's off. By 12:15 p.m., secondary shots are complete. Michele pulls a black puffy jacket on over her seafoam chiffon dress and steps into the street. A waitress rushes up. "Is she gone?" she asks, peering down 44th Street. "She wanted her portrait done. I was going to ask my manager."

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