Amber Riley at the World Premiere of "Glee: The 3D Concert Movie," at the Regency Village Theatre, Westwood, CA. (Aug. 6, 2011)

*”Glee’s” Amber Riley will finally see her character Mercedes get a boyfriend when the much-hyped third season begins Sept. 20.

Following the departure of Chord “Pouty-Mouth” Overstreet, the show has signed “Friday Night Lights” veteran LaMarcus Tinker as a regular, according to reports. He’ll play a McKinley High linebacker named Marcus who falls for the glee club’s powerhouse diva.

At last month’s Comic-Con, “Glee” executive producer Brad Fulchuk said Mercedes’ love interest will be “a man who lifts her up, a big bubba kind of guy who encourages her to want more for herself, which will drive her arc for the first half of the season. … Think Cuba Gooding Jr. and his wife in ‘Jerry McGuire.’”

LaMarcus Tinker

Meanwhile, Riley and her cast members open today in “Glee: The 3D Concert Movie,” which captures two days of the show’s world tour last spring. As die-hard Gleeks already know, the film comes on the heels of controversy and rumors surrounding the announcement of three major cast members exiting at season’s end.

While Mercedes is staying put, Rachel (Lea Michele), Fin (Cory Monteith) and Kurt (Chris Colfer) will be graduating this year, thus leaving the show for good.  News of their impending departure was coupled with reports of the actors finding out through press accounts instead of courtesy phone calls.

Riley says she hopes today’s movie release will remind fans that the off-camera drama that may surround the series goes against what the show stands for.

“This movie is going to put a lot of things in perspective for people and they’ll get back to what the show is really about,” Riley said during a press conference for the film last week in Los Angeles. “It’s not about gossip, it’s not about drama. It’s about these kids out there that are connected to each and every one of these characters. Our characters have literally grown up with them, and we are helping them through adolescence, through high school and through junior high. So I’m hoping that that’s what this movie is going to do.”

In the audio bonus below, Riley talks about the intensity of “Glee’s” fan base and its dominating presence on social media.

Amber Riley on feeling the love from Gleeks by CherieNic