Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly tried to downplay the notion that "Glee" is in the midst of messy casting shifts that have confused even its cast.
He spoke at the Television Critics Association summer press tour Friday about news that stars Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer will leave the show at the end of season three as their characters finish high school. Colfer said he first learned of the news on Twitter.
"I was extemely upset myself to learn about this on Twitter — I'm kidding," Reilly said, adding that he thinks the issue is "taking on a little more heat and momentum" than it deserves. He said he was hesitatant to add to the concerns by devoting too much time to talking about them and expressed faith in show creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.
"As you well know, there are many successful shows on the air that have genuine controversy," said Reilly (pictured above with Colfer). "That is really not the case at this show. It is a good group of people. Personalities always have difficulty. And I think that Ryan [Murphy] and his group of associates there… do a phenomenal job managing that every day."
The casting news came out when Murphy talked about it with The Hollywood Reporter, saying the stars would have to exit because of the show's high school setting and timeline.
"Ryan did talk to all the actors about it," Reilly said. "I think the public nature of it took everybody by surprise. I mean Ryan himself has said he probably regrets kind of talking about it at that point because in the interim we had decided to really focus on this year."
He said he and others at Fox has talked with Murphy and Falchuk about the upcoming season and his associates had to fight back tears at the plotlines and how good they were.
The show will focus on its core characters rather than the guest stars and tribute episodes that came to characterize the last season. He also said a possible spin-off for the show "remains in the wind," and will be addressed in the latter half of the third season.
Reilly said he hasn't expressed concern about Murphy and Falchuk working on both "Glee" and their upcoming FX show, "American Horror Story."
"Even if I had the talk, he wouldn't listen anyway," he joked of Murphy.
Reilly warned at the start of the session that he didn't expect to break much news: He said he wouldn't announce whether Jennifer Lopez will return to "American Idol" and said a decision on whether the next season of "House" will be its last will come later.
But he did talk about other Fox shows, saying last season's Christian Slater comedy "Breaking In" could land a spot in Fox's Tuesday night, four-comedy block planned for midseason. He said no new episodes have been ordered yet.
He also said "Little in Common," a sitcom from "Party Down" and "Veronica Mars" creator Rob Thomas that is also being considered for midseason, had been retooled and is going into production in a few weeks. It will star "Childrens Hospital" creator Rob Corddry and comedian Kevin Hart as suburban fathers who become pals through their kids' organized sporting events.
He also said the big-budget, Steven Spielberg-produced fall sci-fi series "Terra Nova" was on schedule. The network canceled plans to air its premiere in May because the special effects weren't ready.
He acknowledged the show was a big bet because creating its pilot required an unusually large financial committment. Besides dinosaurs, the show features futuristic weapons and vehicles galore.
But he said the costs are spread out over 13 episodes, and that the show has sold well with advertisers and internationally. It will also stand out, he said.
"What it is is a bet where you don't say, well wait, which one is 'Terra Nova' again? This is separated from the pack," he said.