Dante Di Loreto is executive producer on Glee, one of the most successful TV shows of recent years. In its very first season, it won lorry-loads of awards, including the 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series—Musical or Comedy, a People’s Choice Award for Favourite New TV Comedy in 2010, and a Peabody Award. It has recently been nominated for an incredible 20 Emmy Awards.
Audiences instantly took to their hearts such memorable characters as the ever encouraging Glee Club teacher, Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), a perfectionist firecracker who is convinced that the show choir will provide her route to stardom and Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), the acerbic cheerleading coach who constantly tries to sabotage the Glee Club.
The executive producer, who also serves as President of Production for Ryan Murphy Television, begins by highlighting the main reason why Glee has struck such a chord with people. “Why has it caught fire? Because it’s a show about outsiders and misfits. We all wonder exactly where we fit in, so we can all identify with how it feels to be an outsider and a misfit. We can all sympathize with them.”
Dante, whose production credits also include the Emmy Award-winning My Louisiana Sky, Pretty/Handsome, Temple Grandin and Die, Mommie, Die!, which picked up the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, continues that the show has valuable lessons to teach us about understanding others.
According to the executive producer, “One of the most exciting things about the show is that people have embraced characters who are different, like Arty, a boy in the wheelchair and Kurt, a gay young man.
“In Glee, viewers are exposed to people who are different and are simply invited to accept them. Are people naturally prejudiced or naturally accepting and learn prejudice? I believe that people learn prejudice.”
To reinforce the point, Dante carries on that, “We’ve just finished a concert tour in the US. People in the audience never thought, ‘oh my God, there’s someone in a wheelchair on stage’. They simply thought, ‘there’s Arty’. You identify with someone as a character, not an issue.
“Then when Chris [Colfer, who plays Kurt] sang ‘Defying Gravity’ at Radio City in New York, 7000 people leapt to their feet and cheered. That was an emotional moment for people who in earlier life may have had no role like Kurt. For a lot of people now, he’s a great role model.”
Dante, who previously supervised film development and theatrical operations for Bill Kenwright Ltd, the UK’s largest production company, smiles as he looks back on his favourite scenes from the first season of Glee. “As an executive producer, I love those moments that have been the greatest challenge, like a group of footballers doing ‘Single Ladies’ or a deaf character singing ‘Imagine’. And how do you top a troupe of cheerleaders on stilts performing Madonna?
“The three writers are always scrambling to create new scenes, and we’re constantly surprised by what they come up with it. They’re particularly adept at making sure every single episode is about something.”
Dante finishes by paying tribute to the trio of creator-writers of Glee, Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan. “One of the most amazing things about Glee is that just those three guys have written every single episode. On most TV shows, it takes a room full of writers to keep up with the demands of the show.
“But very early on, Ryan decided he just wanted the three of them to write it. It gives the show a singular voice. It’s a remarkable feat. Every eight days, we’re shooting a new episode. Those guys are geniuses … or space aliens!”
Interview courtesy of Next Entertainment