Glee cast members talk about transitioning to the big screen

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. - Last week during a Fox party to celebrate the upcoming fall TV season, "Glee" stars Lea Michele, who plays Rachel Berry, and Jenna Ushkowitz, who plays Tina Cohen-Chang, took a short break from interviews for a brief reunion filled with screams and hugs.

"I have not seen that girl in four weeks," Ushkowitz said, "and that feels like a year."

Maybe there's infighting elsewhere among the cast of television's "Glee," but it was not in evidence in that brief moment of exuberant friendship.

Beginning last Friday, the "Glee" cast briefly transitions to the big screen -- Fox says the movie will only be in theaters for two weeks -- with the release of "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie," recorded earlier this summer during the cast's summer-concert tour.

"I never thought I'd see my face in 3-D," Ushkowitz said. "The film is kind of like a first-row seat for the cities we didn't get to visit."

The concert film was shot at a tour stop in New Jersey during a concert at night and in special staging during the day without an audience for filming onstage close-ups of the cast.

"I did a little bit more hair (whipping) just for the audience members," said Heather Morris, who plays airhead Brittany. "I'm not gonna lie, I planned that. We played more outward so you get the 3-D effect. I wanted it to feel like I was touching (the audience)."

Harry Shum Jr., who danced his way into "Glee" as Mike Chang, had previous 3-D-movie experience from his role in 2010's "Step Up 3D."

"We did 45 ('Glee' concert) shows in six weeks, so we got pretty good at it by the time we filmed the movie," he said. "It felt comfortable for the cameras to come in because that's what we're used to compared to having thousands of fans scream at you."

Cast members also hammed it up backstage at the concert in character as their "Glee" personas.

"I'm playing Rachel in the movie and there's a lot of backstage stuff where I'm playing Rachel, which was very interesting for me to be Lea-slash-Rachel-slash-I'm-on-my-summer-break," she said. "It was completely ad-libbed in character, no script whatsoever."

Michele hadn't seen the film and wasn't sure if she'd wear 3-D glasses through the whole movie: "Me coming at me just feels like a lot."

"Glee" has had a tumultuous summer, with highs ("The Glee Project" reality show on Oxygen) and lows (miscommunication gaffes aplenty).

Actor Chord Overstreet, who played Sam last season and in the concert film, was not offered a full-time job in the upcoming third season and declined an offer to return as a guest star.

"Glee" executive producer Ryan Murphy gave an interview where he indicated three characters will not return after the show's third season, a report later contradicted by another executive producer before Murphy tried to quell fan upset over "cast firings" but instead made it sound like he was blaming the show's actors for any misunderstanding.

"I think I've said everything I want to say about 'Glee' for now," Murphy said Saturday after a press conference for his upcoming FX series "American Horror Story."

At this point, all involved now indicate Michele, Chris Colfer (as Kurt) and Cory Monteith (as Finn) will have "Glee" jobs beyond May 2013, when their characters graduate from high school.

Regardless of any backstage drama, Michele said she's eager for the new season to begin.

She hopes she and viewers will finally get to meet Rachel's gay dads and she's eager for a plot that finds her character cast in a dream role in a high-school musical ("not Fanny Brice" of "Funny Girl" was her only hint).

"I feel like every time we feel it's the peak (of 'Glee' popularity), the next month we're meeting (President Barack) Obama," she said. "I feel like it won't get any better and then it does.

"Right now I'm so excited about the movie. ... So many people don't know we spent the summer doing a tour, so now they can see what all the hard work was about."

(Follow TV writer Rob Owen on Twitter or Facebook under RobOwenTV. E-mail him at owner(at)shns.com.)

(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.)

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