Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TV coverage.

Ryan MurphyCo-creator Ryan Murphy is coming off a sophomore season of Glee that drew gripes from fans and a controversy surrounding his comments about stars Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, and Cory Monteith. Now, Ryan is ready to make amends. “This year, the idea is just to run the show,” he said this afternoon after a screening of Glee‘s 3rd season premiere. “Last year was a new thing for me. I’d run television shows before, but  I’d never run a business before. It was a weird thing.” Now the focus is “on making this the best year we’ve ever done. And in fact, we think that’s exactly what we’re going to have. Part of the reason for that is  we’ve  figured out the best  way to shoot the show, and a way to do it more economically for Fox.”

Added Murphy: “I  have my passion for it back. And you can see the excitement on the set. The actors I feel are  really renewed and excited and are thrilled to be  there. It’s fun again. You know, things took a bit of a nasty turn, but I feel great about it again.”

The season opener, which airs Tuesday, features Lindsay Pearce — one of the 4 finalists on the Oxygen reality series The Glee Project. Pearce is playing a major role during Season 3 … SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! as the leader of a rival singing group to New Directions. She’ll continue to recur as a nemesis to Rachel (Michele) in several episodes. Her big first music number is singing “Anything You Can Do from Annie Get Your Gun.

Murphy told reporters that it occurred to him after the part already had been written that Pearce would be perfect for it — but had to shoot her first episode before The Glee Project finale had aired. “We kept delaying doing it so it wouldn’t leak.” The Glee Project‘s two winners, Damian McGinty and Sam Larsen, also will appear in significant story arcs on the show later this fall … SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! … with McGinty portraying “a foreign exchange student shacking up with Brittany (Heater Morris), and she of course believes him to be a leprechaun with magical powers”. McGinty “isn’t an actor,” Murphy acknowledged, “but he did great. On his first day he got shoved into a locker like 25 times” but came through it well. Larsen will appear in “somewhere around Episode 10 or 11,” Murphy added.

So with Michele, Colfer, and Monteith’s characters graduating from high school at the end of this coming season, how will they be integrated into the series’ high-school setting? “There are lots of things they could do,” Murphy told Deadline. “They could become teachers. They could become college students. There are very organic ways you could keep them on the show, and keep them big, and keep the audience invested in them… But the show is always going to be about that choir room.”

As for doing a spinoff, the producers will revisit the idea in the spring. “We would do discussions of it much differently than we handled it before,” Murphy said.