“The Price of Glee” gathers the most notable news coverage (both positive and negative) around the once-beloved Fox series.
Though filmed without the participation of any members of the principal cast or creative team, the three-part documentary recounts the dark shadows around some of its actors: Cory Monteith’s overdose, Mark Salling’s arrest, Lea Michele’s bullying behavior, Naya Rivera’s tragic death and Melissa Benoist’s allegations of domestic violence against Blake Jenner.
Here are some factoids revealed in “The Price of Glee,” which is streaming on Disney Plus.
Social media fueled conflict: Created by Ryan Murphy, “Glee” debuted in 2009, alongside the explosion of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.
While filming the third season, “I would oftentimes see that actors gathered talking about how many people they’ve acquired as followers, and there was a competition,” notes former hair department head Dugg Kirkpatrick. “In the beginning when they had to tweet every day, it was Lea that really had the numbers. The head gets a little bit bigger, to say the least.”
Schedule took a toll: Like other TV shows with musical numbers, “Glee” actors split their time between recording songs, learning choreography and rehearsing entire sequences, in addition to filming each episode’s scenes.
And unlike other shows, the cast spent multiple hiatuses on national concert tours. “They weren’t getting the time off — for the actors, it became almost a year-round job,” says former rigging gaffer J.A. Byerly.
Price of fame: Fans regularly mobbed the cast when they were shooting on location, and occasionally became invasive: Chris Colfer was kissed by a fan on the mouth without consent; Monteith had a young woman stalking him. The production even had to “build a wall from their trailers to the set that was like a tunnel so that the cast could travel safely without the tours bothering them or just people in the parking lot,” says Stephen Kramer Glickman, who filmed “Big Time Rush” on the same studio lot.
Such privacy concerns left Monteith isolated, along with being exhausted by the show’s filming schedule and the nonstop headlines about his relationship with co-star Michele. “I remember him specifically saying, ‘I wouldn’t wish fame on my worst enemy,'” says Monteith’s former roommate Justin Neill. Plus, he was particularly stressed about his lack of dancing skills in comparison to his co-stars, and had to turn down film projects because of the series’ demands.
Monteith’s relapse: The actor was written out of numerous episodes of the fourth season to attend rehab, but overdosed four months later. After rehab, “[Monteith] said he was at a party and hadn’t been drinking, and he wanted to have a drink, but he knew he shouldn’t,” says Kirkpatrick. “He was told by a certain cast member that night, ‘If you want to have a drink, you should have a drink. I’ll be here, you can trust that I’ll always be here.'”
“That confused him and made him mad,” added Kirkpatrick, who doesn’t name the actor who spoke to Monteith. “But he did. He started drinking because he was given permission by somebody that he loved. He resented it, but he also took the direction. It took him on a path to destruction.”
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