“Glee” will take advantage of its “American Idol” lead-in come spring when season 11 runner-up Jessica Sanchez heads to the Fox musical for a recurring role.
On the flipside, with New Directions being repopulated -- and back to underdog status following the graduation of its core members in Rachel, Kurt, Mercedes, Finn, Santana, Puck, Mike and Quinn -- the teen diva could easily play a much-needed new powerhouse voice to challenge McKinley's glee club.
Poised to join the series midway through the' fourth season, which, er, direction will Glee co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk take the Idol star? Read on for THR's stab at five possible storylines.
Pay Homage to Babs. Four months after reports first surfaced that Sanchez would be appearing on Glee, Murphy confirmed the news on Twitter and suggested a Barbra Streisand tribute, noting that the teen's powerful voice was in the same league as that of co-stars Lea Michele (Rachel), Naya Rivera (Santana), Melissa Benoist (Marley), Amber Riley (Mercedes) and Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina). Sanchez, a former semi-finalist on America's Got Talent, is more than up for the task. To wit: American Idol had planned a Donna Summer tribute and taped Sanchez and Kristin Chenoweth -- who earned two Emmy nominations for her Glee guest gig -- singing a duet of the Streisand/Summer disco classic, "Enough is Enough." Although the performance was never broadcast, luring Chenoweth back for a do-over would be a double bonus.
Tribute American Idol. Murphy recently told THR that he's planning two additional tribute episodes as part of Glee's fourth season, to which we say, why not one with an American Idol theme? Sanchez could play a McKinley student preparing for an Idol audition who comes to Matthew Morrison's Will Schuester for audition tips. Imagine the irony if Glee featured Riley -- who auditioned and didn't make it through during Idol's second season -- and Sanchez teaming for songs from Idol alums like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood or Adam Lambert.
Play the new kid that Charice was supposed to be on season two. Fellow Filipina singer Charice booked a recurring role on Glee for its second season as Sunshine Corazon, an exchange student that Rachel sees as a threat to her leading role with New Directions. Sunshine winds up joining Vocal Adrenaline and losing to New Directions at Nationals, but while Charice was signed on as a recurring player, she only appeared in three episodes and didn't seem to make much of an impression on the Fox musical, even after a promising start in the season two premiere. Now with Rachel graduating, playing her heir apparent would establish a new internal threat, while also filling out the New Directions ranks by joining newcomers Marley and (likely) Kitty. (With apologies to Tina and Brittany.)
Compete at a rival school. Let's face it, Glee is at its best when competition calls, so perhaps Sanchez could sink her teeth into the role of rival group member -- similar to the Warblers, who are providing a new challenge for re-crowned underdogs New Directions. And while we're at it, bring back Jonathan Groff to lead Vocal Adrenaline and flush out Wade "Unique" Adams' (Alex Newell) defection to McKinley.
Join Santana's extended fam. Remember the talk of rapper Pitbull joining the series to play Santana's brother? We see even more of a family resemblance in Sanchez, who could play a cousin, joining the Lopez matriarch, aka best mother in the world (played by Gloria Estefan), and a homophobic grandmother. Sanchez's calling? Helping Santana figure out her future. After all, Jake Puckerman (Jacob Artist) can't be the only long-lost family member of a former New Directions member. Plus, Sanchez in the role would provide more of a reason for Santana to continue to come back to Lima (you know, besides to see her first love, Brittany).
“Glee” airs 8 p.m. Thursdays on Fox.By The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER