Thanks to his breakout Fox hit “Glee,” Ryan Murphy not only has his finger on the pulse of the youth market — he has it firmly by the throat, so to speak. The exuberant song-and-dance comedy averages 8 million viewers a week (most in the highly desirable 18-49 demo) and has quickly gone from cult obsession to national phenom.
How does Murphy, who co-created the show with aspiring screenwriter Ian Brennan, do it? By cleverly combining the dramedy of his beloved but short-lived high school series “Popular” with the twisted adult snarkiness of “Nip/Tuck.”
“He’s a genius,” says 19-year-old Chris Colfer, who plays gay fashionista Kurt. Of course, Colfer may be slightly biased, as Murphy created and then tailored the role especially for the Clovis, Calif., native. “It was the first thing I ever booked, and then to find out that Ryan had decided to get rid of another character so I could be in the show? That was the most surreal element of this whole amazing experience,” he says.
The “show embryo,” Colfer is the youngest in a cast of teen characters played mostly by mid-20s thesps (Cory Monteith and Mark Salling are both 27, Lea Michele is 24).
“I was literally in high school just last year, and coming from a high school experience that wasn’t so great into a show and a character whose high school experience isn’t so great — it makes the role easy for me,” says Colfer, who calls himself “a huge fan” of Murphy’s “Nip/Tuck.” “I never had a teenage rebellion period — I just watched ‘Nip/Tuck,'” he jokes.
Impact: The “Popular” exec producer went back to high school with “Glee.”
Next: Just wrapped production on Sony’s “Eat Pray Love,” starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem.