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'Glee' will address drug abuse in Cory Monteith exit episode

"Glee" star Cory Monteith's castmates will film PSAs about drug abuse to air during a tribute to the late actor, Kevin Reilly, Fox's chairman of entertainment, said on Thursday.

The show and network said goodbye to the 31-year-old actor in a private memorial service last week that was "beautiful and touching," Reilly said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. Monteith died on July 13 in a Vancouver hotel from a heroin and alcohol overdose. 

Producers now face the sad challenge of dealing with the exit of Monteith's beloved character, Finn Hudson, and how his loss will impact the last two seasons of Fox's hit musical comedy.

"This show truly was a family," Reilly said. "They went through an extraordinary experience together, young kids for the first time and (executive producer Ryan Murphy) being their sort of surrogate dad. He's been dealing with all of that, and only now are we getting down to the work."

When the show returns on Sept. 26, plans will move forward for the two-part Beatles tribute that has been in the works for several years. The exit of Finn, the quarterback-turned-glee-club leader, will be the focus of the third episode, Reilly said. It is possible producers will weave unused footage of Monteith throughout the episode, he added. But it has not been decided if the character will die of a drug overdose, Reilly said.

"Ryan will be shooting the PSAs ... the cast as cast members, as friends of his, they are going to speak directly with the audience," he said. "I think they’re going to be very, very impactful. ... What we all said (at the memorial service), what everybody knows, you see some people struggling with addiction — it’s clear. They’re very easily put in a category: 'Oh he’s dark, oh she was always a partier.' Cory was a big open, life force. He was not a problem. Everybody loved him. He didn’t look like that. He looked straight as an arrow. He was very open about it in his past, not as open about it in the present.

"Nobody was shocked but everybody was ultimately shocked," Reilly continued. "Because it was an accident that happened to somebody struggling with an addiction. And I think hopefully that’s what can come of this — of illuminating that particular kind of addiction. That’s what Ryan’s gonna be doing on the show. I have to give them a few weeks to get their hands around how they’re going to do it creatively on the show."

The proceeds from the music in Monteith's tribute episode will go to a fund that is being set up for the late actor, Reilly said. After the tribute episode airs, the show will be on a three-week hiatus to accommodate the World Series, Reilly said.

"He was a beautiful guy and I’ve just been saddened over the whole thing," Reilly said.