"Glee Project" attracts Gleeks from far and wide

Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:48pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - More than 40,000 people -- some from as far away as Singapore, London and Switzerland -- auditioned for a coveted guest role on TV musical comedy "Glee" in a talent search so popular it has been turned into a reality show of its own.

"The Glee Project", airing in June, tracks the efforts of thousands of hopeful fans known as "Gleeks" -- a combination of "Glee" and geek -- to land a seven-episode guest starring role on "Glee" next season.

But don't expect a show packed full of hopeless wannabees or humiliating trials as the largely amateur contestants make their way to the finals, producers said on Thursday.

"We are not trying to make complex challenges that make fun of people. We are not trying to make them jump through hoops without cause," executive producer Dante Di Loreto told TV journalists.

"The mentoring process is really key. It is about giving them the tools to be better performers," he added.

The idea of finding a new member of cast from the public first came from "Glee's" Emmy-winning director Ryan Murphy more than a year ago to celebrate the diversity of the TV show's misfit group of high school kids in a struggling choir.

Some 34,000 people sent in auditions on social networking website MySpace, and additional casting calls were held in the United States last year.

Murphy and "Glee" casting director Robert Ulrich are closely involved in "The Glee Project," and they hope to find a unique character, able to sing, dance and act, who will inspire the show's writers.   Continued...