Anyone who ever has dreamed of being on "Glee" now has the right to envy 12 specific people.
Premiering Sunday, June 12, the unscripted Oxygen series "The Glee Project" lets that dozen compete for a seven-episode role in the Fox show's upcoming third season. Ryan Murphy and Dante Di Loreto, who are among the creators and executive producers of "Glee," play active roles in deciding which of the hopefuls ultimately makes his or her way to Ohio's fictional New Directions glee club.
"It's something that Ryan had thought of very early on," Di Loreto says of the contest. "The question is how to grow talent into the (Fox) show, and it was such an interesting process to open that window up to the audience and see what it's like. Hopefully, it'll be as enjoyable for everyone else as it's been for us."
Di Loreto and Murphy already knew that feeling from their initial casting for "Glee," which has since made stars out of Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison and others. "It's so joyful and inspiring to see really talented young people performing," Di Loreto reflects. "It's so energizing, that's what this was reminiscent of.
"When we were casting the (original) show, we'd go in to meet the network executives for the final callbacks, and (the performers) were just sitting on the edge of their seats. Normally, an actor comes in and reads a scene, then the next one comes in and reads; you don't have the energy of a musical performance, which is just thrilling to watch."
The breadth of contenders in "The Glee Project" is suggested by the distances from which they came for the opportunity ... including Northern Ireland in one case. "We were hoping people would respond the way they did," Di Loreto says, "but we were really impressed with the depth of the talent. You knew there was going to be a lot of interest, but you didn't know how diverse the talent would be.
"It's a fantastic group," adds Di Loreto, who's also focusing this summer on another "Glee" concert tour and a resulting 3-D movie. "Everyone is really, really unique, which is what's so important to us."