USA TODAY - Real life will intrude into Glee's fantasy world of high-school choirs.
Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly says Glee's third-episode tribute to Cory Monteith, airing Oct. 10, will "deal directly with the incidents involved in Cory's passing and the drug use in particular," though his character Finn -- unlike Monteith -- never had a drug problem. Despite the implication, he wouldn't confirm that the Finn character will die of a drug overdose, as the actor did last month.
The first two episodes, airing Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, are previously written Beatles tributes and will not mention Finn, who was absent for the final two episodes of last season while the actor was in rehab. "It would be difficult to come out of the gate right away and then recover" from a memorial tribute, to be accompanied by public-service announcements taped by the remaining cast, Reilly says. But it's possible the show will use existing footage of Monteith for the memorial episode.
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But whatever ratings bump the Finn exit gives -- and rivals expect a big one -- will be dampened by the show's three-week break right after for the World Series. But Reilly says co-star Lea Michele, Monteith's girlfriend, was eager to get back to work.
In other news at the Television Critics Association meeting and echoing comments he makes each year, Reilly again promised fewer repeats and said he's planning new-series launches that are spread more evenly throughout the year, plans that often go awry when some of fall's crop inevitably fails. "Limited series" including 24: Live Another Day (with 12, rather than 24 episodes) will appear in May and M. Night Shyamalan's Wayward Pines will show up in July.
Reilly takes comfort in Nielsen data that shows TV viewership continues to rise. "People are loving television; it's a dynamic time for television, but where they're watching, how they're watching... is an extraordinary tapestry that's getting hard to grab by the tail."
Same-day ratings seem to show "anemia" in the marketplace, but-echoing comments from other networks-Reilly cited data showing DVR-delayed viewership spiked The Following by 65% among young adults, on that basis making it TV's top new drama. That doesn't include streaming on Hulu, video on demand or Fox's own website.
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