“At one point, we were going to have his character die after an accidental drug overdose -- that was something we had considered,” Murphy said. "But we have decided that we’re not going to have him pass from that.”
Murphy's comments diverge somewhat from clues given by FOX entertainment chair Kevin Reilly, who said last week the season's third "episode will deal directly with the incidents involved with Cory's passing and the drug abuse in particular."
Instead, Murphy said they decided to take a different tack.
"Basically, what we’re doing in the episode is we are not telling you yet, or maybe not at all, how that character died," he said "The idea being, how somebody died is interesting and maybe morbid, but we say very early on in the episode, “This episode is about a celebration of that character’s life.”
Murphy said the alternative would have "felt really exploitative," but instead has turned into "a lovely tribute, and it's a very heartfelt look at how young people grieve."
"After that, we’re going to take two weeks or three weeks down to get our heads together because it’s been a really hard thing to write," he said. "We loved Cory and we loved Finn and it feels like a huge loss and a huge heartache not to have either of them around. We’re trying to craft an episode that’s not just about us grieving but about a lot of the young fans grieving."
A source previously said Lea Michele, Monteith's costar and his girlfriend when he died, would have "final word" on how the tribute episode would be handled.
Murphy said the show plans to go forward, with some tweaking, with the planned "fun and optimistic" first two episodes featuring music from the Beatles.
The fifth season of "Glee" premieres September 26, and the episode dealing with Finn's death will air October 10.
Monteith, 31, died in Vancouver on July 13 of a lethal combination of alcohol and heroin.