'Glee' to Write Cory Monteith's Finn Out, Sets PSAs, Charity Fund for Late Actor

Finn and Rachel

Finn (Cory Monteith) gives Rachel her holiday gift in the "Extraordinary Merry Christmas" episode, which was directed by the show's Matthew Morrison.

Cory Monteith's Finn Hudson will be written out in the upcoming third episode of Glee, Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly told reporters Thursday at the Television Critics Association.

Decisions are still under way with how the character will creatively exit the series. "Cory's character will be written off and [it] will deal directly with drug addiction and the circumstances surrounding Cory's death," Reilly said, noting that the cast and creators of the series will film public service announcements about drug addiction. Additionally, proceeds from the third episode of Glee's upcoming fifth season will be donated to a new fund for the late actor. It remains unclear if Monteith's Finn will be killed off on the series co-created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.

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"The third episode will be Finn Hudson being written out of the show," Reilly confirmed. The first two episodes -- tributes to the Beatles -- will be fun and celebratory, the executive said. "It would be difficult to come out of the gate right away and then recover," he said of not addressing Monteith's passing in the first two hours. After episode three -- which may include outtakes and unused footage -- Glee will take a likely three-week break for the World Series, which will allow the writers to "reset" the series.

Monteith was found dead in his Vancouver hotel room July 13. He was 31. An autopsy revealed he died of "mixed drug toxicity, involving heroin and alcohol." Fox delayed the season five premiere of Glee a week and will now launch the series Sept. 26.

Reilly praised the late star and said that Monteith did not appear to fit into the fold of individuals who fall into categories of dark and partying drug addicts, instead calling him a "big, open, wonderful life force" who was not a problem. "He looked straight as an arrow," he said, noting that Monteith was open about his past battles with addiction but not about it in the present.

"Nobody was shocked but everybody was ultimately shocked because it was an accident," Reilly said. "It was not intentional. It was an accident that happened to someone struggling with addiction. He said he hoped that the Glee PSAs that Murphy was creating for the Glee cast would be "very impactful." The cast returns to production Monday following last week's private memorial on-set with creators, crew and colleagues. 

"Ryan has been dealing with the tragedy like everybody else," Reilly told reporters following his executive session. "People talk about the family and that show truly was a family. They went through an extraordinary experience together; young kids for the first time … Ryan being their surrogate dad. He's been dealing with all of that and only now are we getting down to the work."

"We're offering any assistance we can -- and flexibility," he added. "If [the cast] weren't up for it, we would have dealt with a pushed back schedule. But really, it was Ryan talking to Lea and she said, 'I want to get back to work,' and all the other kids said, 'We want to get back to work and focus.'" 

Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter that the plan is to pay tribute to Monteith -- whom he described as an "older son" -- with a tribute during the show's third episode, assuming he and the producers "can get it perfect." 

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"The right thing to do for the show, at least at this point, is to have that character pass," Murphy said. "When we do the tribute episode to that character, we'll have to do it in a way where the castmembers will not have to re-create feelings of grief that they’ve had [following Monteith's death] -- but do it in an upbeat way. If we can do this responsibly and help young people through these feelings, that’s the best that we can hope for."

Murphy -- who noted he was taking cues for the show from Monteith's real-life girlfriend and Glee star Lea Michele -- said his team didn't intend to tackle the tribute episode until after last week's memorial, as so much of the cast and crew are still making sense of their emotions. Grief counselors will be on the Glee set for several weeks once production resumes.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com
Twitter: @Snoodit