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Following a much-maligned decision to include late Glee star Cory Monteith as one of its five extended “In Memoriam” segments, Jane Lynch paid tribute to her fallen co-star during Sunday’s 65th annual Primetime Emmys ceremony.
“It is remarkable, and perhaps a little curious, how quickly TV shows become like family in some ways,” Lynch said during the broadcast. “This summer on our show, Glee, we suffered a painful death in our family. Cory Monteith played Finn Hudson, a star quarterback turned wide-eyed, heartfelt glee singer. And from the first time you saw Cory, he had a star quality and genuine sweetness that made it impossible not to fall in love with him. And millions did fall in love with Cory.”
“I’m here to say that all that warmth and that charm, that open-hearted quality that we loved in Cory was no act,” she continued. “Cory was a beautiful soul. He was not perfect, which many of us here tonight can relate to. His death is a tragic reminder of the rapacious, senseless destruction that is brought on by addiction. Tonight, we remember Cory for all he was, and mourn the loss for all he could have been. To a generation that loved Cory so, please know that this gifted and wonderful young man was worthy of your love. And if you were lucky enough to know Cory as we did, and witnessed first-hand Cory’s goofy, breezy sense of humor, his natural instinct for inclusiveness, and his unbridled sense of generosity day in and day out, I promise, you would have loved him even more.”
The singer/drummer/actor was one of five selected by the TV Academy for the special tribute during Sunday’s ceremony. Others included The Sopranos’ James Gandolfini, prolific producer Gary David Goldberg (Family Ties), Jean Stapleton (All in the Family) and actor-comedian Jonathan Winters. (Edie Falco, Michael J. Fox, Rob Reiner and Robin Williams spoke on behalf of their respective friends and colleagues.)
The inclusion of Monteith drew the ire of several in Hollywood for the omission of late stars, including Dallas‘ Larry Hagman and The Odd Couple‘s Jack Klugman. Klugman’s son went so far as to blast the TV Academy on Saturday over his father’s omission, calling it “criminal” and citing Monteith’s inclusion as pandering to younger viewers.
“It’s an insult and it really seems typical of this youth-centric culture that has an extremely short attention span and panders to only a very narrow demographic” of young adults, Adam Klugman said.”I don’t mean to say anything disparaging about Cory, but he was a kid who had won no Emmys and it was a self-induced tragedy.”
Monteith’s mother, Ann McGregor, deflected Klugman’s remarks Sunday, and said that if her son had “lived 30 more years, he would have accomplished much more.”
Emmys producer Ken Ehrlich defended the special tributes selection, which aired following the traditional reel celebrating industry personalities who passed away in the past year. “No matter what we do, there will be people who feel we had other options and could have done other things,” Erlich said during a Wednesday press call. “In all candor, this becomes a producer’s option. And in this case, we selected these five knowing certainly others could be treated this way, but these were the five we chose.”
“It was a rather personal choice. Cory’s appeal is to a different generation,” Ehrlich added. “At 31, he passed away under very different circumstances. It was important to be responsive to the younger viewers to whom Cory meant perhaps as much as these other individuals meant to their own generations.”
In addition to the Emmys tribute, Fox’s Glee will honor Monteith, who played quarterback Finn Hudson, the heart and soul of the glee club at the center of the series, on Oct. 10 with an hour fittingly titled “The Quarterback.”
Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly told reporters during the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour that Monteith’s Finn will be written out of Glee during the third episode of the show’s upcoming fifth season. Fox pushed back the start of season five a week to Sept. 26 in order to allow producers more time to both grapple with their star’s passing and update the season in which Monteith was again to have played a central role.
“Cory’s character will be written off and [the tribute episode] 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.
“The right thing to do for the show, at least at this point, is to have that character pass,” co-creator Ryan Murphy told The Hollywood Reporter of the Monteith tribute hour. “When we do the tribute episode to that character, we’ll have to do it in a way where the cast members 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.”
What did you think of Monteith’s tribute? Hit the comments below with your thoughts.
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