Chris Colfer finds 'Glee' in writing episode of FOX show

The Fresno BeeMay 5, 2014 

Kurt (Chris Colfer) nabs the lead role in a retirement home production "Peter Pan" on Glee.

FOX

No one knows the "Glee" character Kurt Hummel better than Chris Colfer. The Clovis East High School graduate has played the affable student in the FOX series for five seasons.

So when "Glee" producers approached him about writing an episode of the show this season, Colfer wasn't worried about putting words in the mouth of his character. It was writing for all of the other cast members that gave him pause.

"It was a very daunting idea. I have been inside Kurt's head for years, but I was beyond terrified that I would write something for one of my co-stars that they would hate," says Colfer, who loves the series so much that he didn't want to do anything to "bastardize it."

After getting the offer in January, Colfer spent a couple of weeks weighing the idea before finally deciding to bravely leap into writing. His show, "Old Dog, New Tricks," airs tonight.

Writing scripts is nothing new for Colfer. He penned the script for the feature film version of his book "Struck by Lightning" and wrote the script for the TV movie "The Little Leftover Witch." The difference was Colfer didn't know those actors for years.

Although there were certain plot points — part of the overall writing plan for the series — that Colfer had to include in the episode, he was told he could write whatever he wanted for the rest of the episode.

The story line looks at what happens when Kurt falls into a funk after realizing those around him have more career success than he does as an intern at Vogue. As if Kurt's life wasn't already funked up enough, he finds himself in the middle of a production of "Peter Pan" at a senior citizen home.

Colfer waited to write the episode — the 19th of the season — until filming had started on episode 17. That gave him only a couple of weeks to get the script done, but he wanted to see where the characters were in their lives before he started writing.

The delay ended up being a blessing in disguise.

Colfer wanted to get the project going before NBC announced it would air a live production of "Peter Pan" next year. He was afraid that decision would make it hard to get the rights for the musical numbers from the Broadway show to use in his episode.

Once the NBC plans were released, Colfer had to change direction. He wrote the story so that Kurt persuades the nursing home actors to do an updated version of "Peter Pan" using modern music rather than the original score. In the process, Kurt learns a lesson about how a person can make a difference in an unexpected way.

Writing the script gave Colfer a chance to live out a theatrical dream.

"I never got the chance to appear in a production of 'Peter Pan,' but I always wanted to fly on stage," Colfer says. "In the episode, I am singing Madonna's 'Lucky Star' while wearing sunglasses and flying over the stage in a harness."

As with every episode of "Glee," the music is a major part of the story. The songlist — a combination of suggestions by Colfer and other writers — was set first.

Colfer ironed out the last bits of the story when he met with the show's regular group of writers who updated him on events of episode 18.

Now that his episode is is about to air, Colfer has moved on to the other projects.

His third book in the "The Land of Stories" series will be released July 8 (playing off a cliffhanger from the second book). Colfer will play Wendie Malick's son in an episode of "Hot In Cleveland," and he is providing a voice for the animated feature film "Robodog." Several other projects are pending, but Colfer doesn't want to talk about them at this time.

Then it will be back for another season of "Glee." Colfer is not certain what is in store for next year. All he is concerned with now is that fans like the episode he wrote.

"I was worried at the beginning that writing the script would be too much of a handful," he says. "Now that it's over, I'm happy they asked me to do it."

SHOW INFO

"Glee": 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 6, on KMPH (Channel 26.1)

 

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at www.fresnobeehive.com.

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