"There's a reason this kind of thing doesn't happen more often," "Arrested Development" creator Mitchell Hurwitz said of his resurrected comedy series today. "Shows don't reunite because television doesn't work that way. There's no profit model and people go off to do other work."
Hurwitz, along with "Arrested Development" stars Will Arnett (who plays Gob) and Jeffrey Tambor (who plays George Sr.), came to SXSW to speak to the press about the show, the new season of which will premiere on Netflix in its 14-episode entirety in May, at Samsung's Lounge. The comedy, which originally aired on Fox from 2003-2006, will unite the cast and fill in what the characters have been up to over the years, leading up to what Hurwitz has always said was the planned next step, a movie. But even setting up the new season of the series was difficult, Hurwitz said, as eager as they were for it to happen: "It was a complicated thing to get moving, not because anybody wasn't motivated, but because everybody's got their own lives."
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings' comments on an investor call last month about how the upcoming season of "Arrested Development" was "non-repeatable" and a "one-off" had people, as one would expect, asking after the future of the series after the May premiere. Hurwitz summed the state of things up as follows:
We have nothing else right now. Here's what we have: we have the whole story. The whole thing evolved because we wanted to do a movie and we have too much information for the movie. Because time had elapsed, what became interesting was to know where these characters had been, as opposed to just continuing the story. To focus on where each character had been, which I think would be fun for the audience to see, what's Gob up to, you'd have to give him three to four minutes of the movie -- you're halfway through the movie before you've gotten through all the characters.
So what emerged was this anthology series, and it's evolved since then, but the original idea was that we'd do George Sr.'s episode, we'd do Michael's episode, we'd do Gob's episode. And all of this was to be act one of this bigger story that we have, in a lot of detail, actually, for the movie. What we don't have is a movie deal. Know anybody? [laughter] I'm confident that we will succeed at that. It's not our property. 20th Century Fox owns it and they've been amazing. They let us bring it back, which is outside their normal business model -- these companies exist to make 100 episodes, not to make 10 episodes or, in our case, 14.
Arnett added that "It's their ball. They own the football and they own the field, and we're just players on it. We do have these 14 episodes that are about to air, and people are already mad that we don't have the other -- nobody's even seen these. Let's just enjoy this for now."
Hurwitz did want to make it clear that the intention was still to do a movie. "We very much want to do it," he said. "I have to do my due diligence -- I really don't mean to be passing the buck and say 'well, they're not paying for a movie.' I've got to go through the steps, I've got to pitch it to them, they're probably going to need to see a script first, which is not how we've done it in television. In television you just do a pilot and then you've got a series and you're doing it every week, so this is probably going to go through some approval process."
"I think the good people at 20th, if they're in touch with their fanbase, they will have missed an opportunity if they don't," Tambor weighed in. "And it's right here."