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Fox has something to sing about.
“Glee debuted as the first and only successful musical comedy series on television, and more than four years later, it continues to defy genres, break new ground and have a significant impact on popular culture,” Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly said in a statement announcing the news. “Week in and week out, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Ian Brennan, Dante DiLoreto and the entire Glee team deliver a series that not only delights and surprises fans, but also inspires them to talk about, share, debate and engage with the show — and I’m absolutely thrilled to have them on board for another two seasons.”
Reilly first hinted that the renewal could be for multiple seasons in January, telling reporters that it was a “real possibility” that he would pick up the musical for multiple seasons. “We’re going to negotiate now for the fifth season and beyond,” he said at the time.
The Lea Michele starrer has been a sturdy performer for the network in its new Thursdays at 9 p.m. slot, where it has featured more mature themes including last week’s controversial school shooting hour as the series split its focus between McKinley High and New York. In its fourth season, Glee is averaging a 3.6 rating in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic and 8.7 million total viewers. It’s ranked as a top 10 comedy among the metric and overall among adults 18-34.
The musical series, which this season marked its 500th musical performance, remains a valuable commodity for Fox and sibling studio 20th Television, with music sales also serving as a cash cow. More than 53 million Glee tracks have been downloaded and more than 13 million albums have been sold worldwide, including two platinum and give gold albums. The Glee cast also holds the record for the most singles to ever enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart with 203 tracks to date, surpassing the records previously held by Elvis Presley, the Beatles and James Brown.
PHOTOS: ‘Glee’ Season 4 in Pictures
Glee joins fellow hourlongs The Following and Bones on Fox’s 2013-14 schedule, which also features returning comedies The Mindy Project, New Girl and Raising Hope. Animated entries also securing a spot on the schedule include American Dad, Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy and The Simpsons.
Season four thus far has been a divisive one, with interest waning in the Ohio-set story line where the series has added a roster of new faces including Melissa Benoist (Marley), Becca Tobin (Kitty), Jacob Artist (Jake) and Glee Project season two winner Blake Jenner (Ryder). Much of Glee core cast graduated in the season three finale, with stars Amber Riley, Dianna Agron, Mark Salling, Naya Rivera and Harry Shum Jr. appearing sporadically this season after the planned New York-set spinoff were nixed last year.
Murphy, speaking with The Hollywood Reporter in early February, said he was considering doing something different with Glee‘s fifth season — potentially nixing one of the show’s two locations.
“I think what we’re going to do, and I have to wait until that moment to announce, but what we’re going to do with the show is very different,” he said of the idea of an entirely New York-set location. “Not everybody will go to New York, because I think that’s really unrealistic. I really like this season, and I liked going back and forth, but I would really like at one point for a huge chunk of them to stay in one location, which we’ll probably do next year. We just started to talk about that.”
“I loved going back and forth, and I think we’ll always have one foot in both, but I would like a big chunk to follow one particular story that we’re getting ready to launch at the end of this year,” he added of the season four storyline that will include Rachel and other characters. “It’s going to be a big cliffhanger.”
And while another graduation would appear to be on the table for characters including Blaine (Darren Criss), Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), Artie (Kevin McHale) and Brittany (Heather Morris), Murphy says that may not be the case. “We’re doing some weird s— on the show, just wait,” he said with a smile. “I don’t want to do what we’ve done every year; I want to do something different.”
With the renewal, Murphy will have at least two shows on the air next season, with Glee joining FX anthology American Horror Story: Coven. NBC has yet to make a decision on the future of Murphy and co-creator Ali Adler‘s freshman comedy The New Normal and Oxygen has yet formally weigh in on the future of The Glee Project, which thus far has produced stars Damian McGinty, Alex Newell, Jenner and Samuel Larsen. For Murphy’s part, he also has a sexually-themed drama pilot set up at HBO.
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