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The Heldenfiles - Glee-ful Ohio

By Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

Glee-Ful Ohio. You may have seen promotional spots for Glee, a Fox musical-comedy series getting a special preview on May 19 before joining Fox's lineup in the fall.

What you may not know is that the preview episode — the first in the series — is loaded with Ohio connections.

Although some Fox materials have been vague about the location, the show's fictional McKinley High School is in Lima, series creator Ryan Murphy has said.

One character refers to ''my long-distance girlfriend in Cleveland.''

McKinley's glee club — which is more of a show choir — goes to a presentation by Carmel High School ''down in Akron.''

OK, so Akron isn't exactly ''down'' from Lima. At least there's a mention. And that group at Carmel, however fictional it may be, is really good. As is the pilot generally, blending feel-good aspects of the High School Musical movies with a little tartness, more vivid characters and lots of humor.

But Why Lima? That's what I asked Murphy during a recent conference call. The man behind nip/tuck and Popular said he wanted to set the show in the Midwest, since he's an Indiana kid himself. Let the debate resume over whether Ohio is actually Midwest. He also remembers a lot of visits to Ohio to go to the Kings Island theme park.

''I don't know why Lima,'' he said. It stayed in his memory because ''when I was a very little kid, there was a series of tornadoes that swept through Lima on Mother's Day'' and his grandparents would often talk about the incident. (He may actually be thinking of the famous Palm Sunday storm of 1965.)

He has been through Lima, he said, but has not spent a lot of time there.

Glee may have plenty of chances to make more references to Ohio. That May 19 preview will air after the final performance show of this season's American Idol, with the winner crowned on May 20. So there will be huge potential audience for Murphy's series. And Murphy said the pilot will be available for additional viewing in the months leading up to the fall premiere.

Which sounds as if Fox expects Glee to be a very big part of its lineup next season.

More True. Nickelodeon has ordered a second season of True Jackson, VP, the comedy starring Keke Palmer. Twenty more episodes will be made of the series, with Palmer as a teen who becomes head of a fashion label's youth division.

Idol Chatter. While the current foursome of American Idol judges has gotten some mixed reviews, Simon Cowell has indicated in several interviews that everyone will be back next year. Including, he says, Little Miss Artistry, Kara DioGuardi. He told Ellen DeGeneres that in a show set to air Tuesday.

But that doesn't mean it's all been easy. According to, Cowell told DeGeneres that ''There's less time for us to talk. One week literally we couldn't talk, so 10 minutes before the show started they said, 'Oh by the way you can't talk for half the show.' It's rather like saying in a singing competition to the singers, half of you can't sing. It was just crazy.''

There are plenty of times when I would be happy if DioGuardi or Paula Abdul was muzzled. But the recent experiment in having just two judges analyze each contestant did not work either.

Poking Trek. I love the new Star Trek movie, and so will plenty of other people. But former Clevelander Andy Borowitz is needling some of the audience.

In his online Borowitz Report, he says the movie ''is hoping for record box office returns, fueled by a big turnout from the movie franchise's core audience: virgins.

''While the studio has high hopes for the movie's success with the general audience, it is taking great pains to target the group that has flocked to every previous Star Trek film, and that means reaching out to people who have never come close to having sex.''

Covered. Transformers star Megan Fox is on the cover of the June issues of both Esquire and Elle. One reason (besides her looks) is that she offers good copy. Asked by Elle about her giving male writers ''an amped-up version of her past,'' she said, ''They're boys; they're easily toyed with. I tell stories and have them eating out of my hand.''


Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal, in the HeldenFiles Online blog at and now on Twitter. He can be reached at 330-996-3582 and


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