Glee's Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Cory Monteith are returning for Season 4, along with all the cast members -- but for how long?
Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly told The Hollywood Reporter during this week's upfront in New York that members of the swelling cast -- which counts a graduating class that includes Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, Dianna Agron and Mark Salling, among others -- are in talks for the duration of their return and whether they'll be signed on as series regulars for 22-episode deals or recurring roles. Deals are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
The musical drama's Season 3 finale, airing Tuesday, in which the seniors bid farewell to McKinley High and some -- potentially Michele, Monteith and Colfer -- head to New York for a show-within-a-show fourth year, will set up what the executive sees as a creative renaissance for Season 4 as the series moves to 9 p.m. Thursdays.
The executive reaffirmed that Riley, whose recent tweet (which she later clarified) led to a wave of speculation that her time with Glee had come to an end, would indeed be back.
In fact, Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy told Vulture that he met with the cast and gave them the opportunity to move on and do other things.
"I said to them, 'Anybody who wants to stay on the show will stay on the show,'" he told the site, which confirmed that McKinley faculty members played by Emmy winner Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison and Jayma Mays would all return for Season 4.
"It doesn't mean everyone will be doing 22 episodes, but everyone wants to stay in our family to make sure those actors know that if they want to have a home, they have a home," Murphy said. "If they want to explore new and different things while also having a home, that is also an option."
Glee went through a similar experience last season when recurring actors Harry Shum Jr. and Darren Criss were promoted to regular status for Season 3, while the series regular option on Chord Overstreet was not picked up. Overstreet parted ways with the series but returned in a recurring capacity midway through the season.
The cast has continued to find success in projects outside of the Fox musical. Criss (a junior on the series) has gone on to Broadway, and Michele, Agron, Monteith and Colfer all have growing careers on the big screen (the latter two active as producers as well).
While McKinley will be down a handful of New Directions' founding members in its Ohio-based story, Glee is poised to add cast members for its fourth season, including guaranteeing the winner of Oxygen's reality competition The Glee Project a seven-episode arc. (This season saw four Glee Project standouts appear, with Damian McGinty going on to guest-star in more episodes than his guaranteed seven.)
Add to that the expectation that the New York setting could potentially add more cast beyond Sarah Jessica Parker and Kate Hudson, who have both signed on for major arcs. (Murphy told THR that Hudson likely will begin her arc in the Season 4 premiere, with Parker appearing a few episodes afterward.)
Setting recurring roles for some castmembers could prove a wise and cost-effective move for the series and sibling studio 20th Television.
Next week's Season 3 finale will likely shed additional light on which Glee characters could have larger and recurring roles.