NBC Rains on 'Glee's' Thanksgiving Day Parade

The cast of "Glee" has reason to be glum now that they've been disinvited from the Macy's parade.
The cast of "Glee" has reason to be glum now that they've been disinvited from the Macy's parade. (By Carin Baer -- Fox)
By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The gang behind "Glee," the new Fox series about a dweeby high school glee club, is very sad because they thought they'd been invited to perform at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, only now they're not.

The invitation was withdrawn after NBC, which shells out millions for exclusive broadcast rights to the parade performances, told Macy's ixnay on the "Eeglay."

"As you know, the GLEE kids were invited to ride a float in the MACY's parade and do 'Don't Stop Believin',' " said an internal memo circulating the halls of 20th Century Fox TV, which produces the show for the Fox broadcast network.

"We were already discussing wardrobe and choreography when we heard late last week that NBC was forcing the parade producers to withdraw the invitation because 'Glee' aired on a competing network."

Macy's and 20th Century Fox TV had their first date to discuss "Glee" a couple of weeks ago, according to a studio insider, who did not want to be named (because the person would get in trouble). The two parties hit it off so well that in no time they were discussing details like what float the cast members would ride on along the parade route, how they would perform on the stage that is set up every year right outside Macy's flagship store in midtown Manhattan, at what hotel the cast would be put up, etc.

Then, out of the blue, Macy's called and broke up with "Glee," saying it had to withdraw the offer after NBC told the store it did not want the Fox series, which is far from being an out-of-the-gate hit, getting a big fat plug on NBC's parade broadcast.

An NBC insider said the network traditionally works with Macy's to decide what performers are approached about doing numbers during the parade. In this case, says the network insider (who also did not want to be named because the person also would get in trouble), Macy's had extended the invitation to "Glee" before informing NBC.

A Macy's rep wasn't going there -- and would only tell the TV Column that the event's "bookings process is fluid and because of that we don't confirm [who's performing] until Nov. 1."

Which is hooey, according to people we talked to at other non-Fox, non-NBC networks that have had cast members from their shows perform in the parade in years past and who say those bookings are often locked in as early as mid-October. Which is, of course, now.

For the record, NBC and 20th Century Fox TV declined to comment for this column.

But, according to the production-house source who cannot be named, the Macy's people said NBC had "never batted an eyelash" in the past when the department store chain invited winners from "American Idol" (also a Fox show) to perform at the parade. Ditto when Macy's invited cast members from Disney Channel's "High School Musical."

NBC only required that the competitors' shows be a "cultural touchstone of the moment, which, the source said, " 'Glee' clearly is."

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