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Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz Recall Failed ‘Glee’ Salary Negotiations Ahead of $44 Million Tour

Kevin McHale Jenna Ushkowitz Recall Failed Glee Salary Negotiations Ahead of 44 Million Tour
(L-R) Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz attend the 2023 iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena on September 22, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Greg Doherty/Getty Images

The Glee cast found a lot of success during the show’s six seasons, but some of the stars regret not asking for higher pay after the Glee Live tour raked in millions.

“[The tour] was a really big deal for several reasons,” Kevin McHale, 35, recalled to cohost Jenna Ushkowitz on the Monday, October 9, episode of the “And That’s What You REALLY Missed” podcast. “This was that part of our contract where we were testing for the pilot, they said ‘You may go on tour’ and we’re like, ‘Hh huh yeah sure whatever,’ and you just sign it.”

Ushkowitz, 37, said it didn’t cross anyone’s mind to not sign the agreement since most of the cast were in their early 20s and “almost broke.”

“So you’re signing the contract,” Ushkowitz explained. “There’s a record deal in place, there’s a tour in place and there’s six seasons in place and some other things.”

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After the inaugural season, the original cast — which also included Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Amber Riley and Mark Salling — did a handful of theater shows referred to as a “pilot program” in preparation for a potential bigger tour.

As Glee grew more popular, a second — and much grander — tour came to fruition in 2011. However, an “amendment” to the cast’s contracts was required in order for the group to go back on the road and film the Fox show on time.

“Because we were shooting nine to 10 months out of the year, Fox had us for four weeks in the contract that we were allowed to go on tour,” McHale explained. “Knowing how expensive a tour is, they found out after the first tour they needed us to go on tour for at least six weeks to make back the money to make a profit [and] basically to make it worthwhile to send us out there.”

Glee Cast Regretted Not Renegotiating Contracts After Their Tour Brought in 44 Million
‘Glee’ Cast. Getty Images

McHale recalled creator Ryan Murphy approaching the cast during rehearsal to share the new plans for an international tour and how the network was on board with the “great opportunity.” McHale claimed the group was told they would get a “private chef” and “private plane” this time around.

“I’m telling you all this just to preface so you don’t think that we’re all spoiled brats because a couple things didn’t happen,” McHale confessed. “You still had months ahead of you filming, you’re tired.”

McHale admitted not everyone was “super stoked” about the new plans since most of them were “exhausted” from filming the show and the tour would cut into their off time. McHale and Ushkowitz invited the “original eight members of the glee club” over to their home to negotiate their salaries.

“This is the only opportunity that they have to change the contract we could go in and ask for more,” he recalled. “They released the tour dates, [and] they released the ticket prices.”

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McHale told everyone that he thought the tour would make “$40 to 50 million.” At the time, however, the cast didn’t follow through with a negotiation since they just wanted to make sure they were taken care of financially with a sure thing.

“We were young and dumb OK?” McHale quipped. “And half of us were like we just want to make sure we have security and a chef — which obviously comes with the tour — and the rest of us were like we would like more money. It ended up being like herding cats and no one could agree on anything.”

The tour “ended up grossing $44 million,” according to McHale. He confessed — without naming names — that a couple of his costars came up to him throughout the tour to tell him he was “right.”

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