Clovis News

'Glee' Emmy nomination a team effort

LOS ANGELES -- Television is a cooperative medium where writers, directors, costume designers, makeup artists, hair stylists, musical directors, choreographers, lighting experts and an army of others focus on one objective: to make the artist look and sound as good as possible.

In the case of a show like "Glee," songs must be recorded, dance numbers choreographed, costumes designed and the script shot in eight days. Then the process starts all over again for the next week.

Sometimes, such as with Clovis East graduate Chris Colfer, those efforts are so accomplished the result gets singled out with an Emmy nomination. Colfer is up for the best supporting actor in a comedy award at "The 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards" on Sunday.

The young "Glee" star is always quick to say he wouldn't be where he is without that army of support. Here are a few of the people who've helped Colfer make his "Glee" character of Kurt Hummel stand out in the TV crowd.

The look: No one dresses better on TV than this high school student. That creates problems for costume designer Lou Eyrich.

"I have to dress him in what's fashionable. But he doesn't have a lot of money," Eyrich says. "We've decided that Kurt reads all of the top fashion magazines and then finds what he can at local stores to create those looks."

Eyrich calls "Glee" a dream job even if there are days when it's so hectic she can be found screaming "I can't do this anymore."

Colfer's wild wardrobe is just part of her job. The costume designer has to come up with school clothes, uniforms or outlandish costumes to dress a large group of young actors.

"It's really almost more of a challenge for me to dress them as regular high school kids than it is to create the fun, crazy costumes. To stay true to the reality, to keep them young-looking, and to make people want to watch the show and be inspired by it," Eyrich says.

The songs: During the first season, Colfer sang a range of tunes, from the Journey's "Don't Stop Believin' " to the show-stopping "Defying Gravity" from "Wicked."

TV shows must get the rights to use music, and that can take time. That's one reason the team's been working for months on a Brittany Spears episode for next season.

Executive producer Dante Di Loreto says the process has been made easier because of what "Glee" promotes.

"For the most part, everyone's been very enthusiastic about how respectfully we use the music. It's a show about music and about arts education and about arts in the school," Di Loreto says.

The process is made very easy when artists -- like Paul McCartney -- offer their music to the show.

The dance moves: Choreographer Zach Woodlee faced real challenges when "Glee" launched because the cast had different dance skills.

That would have been tough if the dance numbers had only one or two characters.

Woodlee has to make the entire "Glee" group work as a unit in a short amount of time. He usually only has eight hours with the cast per dance number.

"Sometimes I joke that I'm the real Will Schuester, because I'm always telling them 'We gotta get ready for nationals.' In my world, it does exist. So it's always making sure that we can get the work done in a day, but pushing it a little bit further each time," Woodlee says.

And he's often pushing in odd directions. For Colfer's performance of "Single Ladies," Woodlee incorporated Beyoncé's original dance moves into a football formation.

The sound: Music producer Adam Anders and his partner, Peer Aström, arrange every musical number depending on how the songs are to be used. They have to decide if the song is just an ode to the original or a complete reinvention.

"My whole thing is to kind of straddle the fence between what 'Glee' is -- the inspiration and everything and not going cheese. It's a little bit of camp, but we never go too far. So when I do go too far, that's the stuff you never hear," Anders says. "I have definitely thrown a lot of stuff out. I'm like, 'Wow, that sucks. Let's start over.'

"I find we're under the gun so much that instinct takes over, and there's really no time to second-guess."