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The Hollywood Reporter broke the news Wednesday that Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer won’t be returning to Glee after its upcoming third season.
Series co-creator Ryan Murphy told THR that Michele, Monteith and Colfer are “not going to be back at all for Season 4. You can keep them on the show for six years and people will criticize you for not being realistic, or you can be really true to life and say when they started the show they were very clearly sophomores and they should graduate at the end of their senior year.”
But don’t feel bad for the trio just yet: They all have various other projects in the works that will keep them busy.
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Michele next appears on the big screen in Garry Marshall’s New Year’s Eve, which opens Dec. 9. The movie, which centers on several couples and singles in New York on the holiday, features an ensemble cast that also includes Josh Duhamel, Ashton Kutcher, Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, Hilary Swank, Sarah Jessica Parker, Halle Berry and Zac Efron.
Meanwhile, the actress also is set to voice the title role in the animated movie Dorothy of Oz, which sees the Kansas girl return to the land of munchkins and witches to help her friends get out of some trouble. The movie, set for release next year, also features the voices of Patrick Stewart, Dan Aykroyd, Oliver Platt, Kelsey Grammer, James Belushi and Martin Short, among others.
Michele also tweeted a message to Glee fans Wednesday upset about the cast shake-up: “We always knew we’d graduate in real time. Its all part of the plan and it’s all good! Its going to make Season 3 amazing!”
Monteith, who is on screens now in Monte Carlo, will hit theaters again in January with Sisters & Brothers. The comedy also stars Tyler Labine and Dustin Mulligan.
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The actor also is attached to star and produce in a workplace comedy for Fox 2000.
Colfer, who won an Golden Globe for his role on Glee, wrote and stars in the indie coming-of-age comedy Struck by Lightning, which hits big screens next year. Allison Janney co-stars as his mom.
Colfer also sold a pilot to Disney Channel titled The Little Leftover Witch, based on Florence Laughlin’s children’s book, which tells the tale of a witch who is taken in by a new family after her broom breaks and she drops out of the sky.
In addition, he has a two-book deal with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. The Land of Stories, due in summer 2012, will tell the story of twins Alex and Connor Bailey and be a fast-paced adventure series that combines the modern world with fairytales. It will target readers ages 8-12 and be followed by a second novel that is yet to be titled.
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Additionally, all three stars will appear along with the rest of the Glee cast in Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, which opens Aug. 12. (Fox is hosting special sneaks two days before the official opening.)
As for Glee the series, Murphy also told THR that planning for the future beyond high school will be a big focus of Season 3, noting that “more characters are leaving than are staying” when graduation time comes at the season’s end.
The news followed the announcement that Chord Overstreet would not be returning to Fox’s musical dramedy, while Harry Shum Jr. and Darren Criss will be back for Season 3.
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