Since “Arrested Development” was canceled by 20th Century Fox in 2006 series creator Mitch Hurwitz has worked tirelessly to try and configure out a plausible way to continue the story of the beloved Bluth family. Seven years in the making, coming up with the correct formula was never going to be easy. Initially he envisioned a movie trilogy, then simply a movie, then a web series, but it wasn’t until conversations began with Netflix — that series producer/narrator Ron Howard initially turned down — that the idea of a new series became a reality.
Stars had to align — literally and figuratively — as the nine member cast, many of them now much bigger names, were scattered across various facets of television and movies and scheduling became an almost insurmountable obstacle (and this is why Howard originally thought there’s no way ‘AD’ could work as a series again.) But after months of juggling the complicated logistics of the show, complex dealmaking, ninja-like schedule jenga and of course, the writing and shooting, “Arrested Development” is back “on the air,” as it were, via Netflix, with 15 episodes that you can digest in one big binge.
Hurwitz recently sat down with KCRW’s The Business to discuss the resurrection of the show, the critical and fan reaction, the Netflix stock price and much much more. Here’s four highlights. Listen to the entire show here and outtakes here.
1. Remember those Michael Cera stories that he didn’t want to be part of the show going forward? That was a gag that backfired.
“We had started to do this sort of Andy Kaufman-esque thing that Michael Cera wasn’t willing to come back and do the show or do the movie,” Hurwitz explained referencing interviews circa 2008 where various members of the “Arrested Development” family would state in interviews that they weren’t sure of Cera’s participation. “It was like, who’s the most absurd person who would tell us to go to hell?”
Back in the day, Cera was known as sole “hold out,” but the joke spiralled out of hand. “Then very quickly that got around a little too fast and it was like a wildfire,” Hurwitz said. “It got out there. And I started seeing, ‘Go to hell Michael Cera, we hate Michael Cera!’ and [we thought], ‘Alright, let’s dial this one back.’ “
2. But the gag was real and they even thought of using an actor to replace him. Perhaps Jonah Hill…
“We were even thinking maybe there’s a way to make a movie and make people think that he’s not in it. We thought it would be really fun to have a different guy playing George Michael,” Hurwitz explained. “Maybe it’s Jonah Hill,” he said without elaborating. “And Michael saying, ‘That’s not George Michael!’ [and other family members would say,] ‘Hey, people grow up, get used to it,’ but it was too much of a public hoax to get away with it.”
3.. So what’s next for “Arrested Development”? Is there a plan in place for the movie or another series?
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos have both said that “Arrested Development” has been a success based on their in-house metrics and have added that they would definitely be willing to house more Bluth family episodes on their streaming provider service. So with that in mind, and their very recent comments, does Hurwitz have a plan? (Don’t forget, Hurwitz’s original plan was for this Netflix series to serve as the first act for a larger movie).
Nope, he admitted. There’s no plan yet and Hurwitz didn’t speak specifically if he’d change his approach to further Netflix episodes. “There’s no doubt that [this series] ends with a lot of things that could continued to be explored,” he said. “And that is a function because it was always designed to be the first act of this movie three act structure — or trilogy when I was trying to make it as a movie trilogy. Without question, I love these characters and I love these people and it would be a privilege to do more of them or to make a movie, but we’re not there yet. We’ve [only] been done for an hour. Look how tired I look.”
4. Did Netflix’s stock drop because of negative critical response to this new “Arrested Development” series?
Hurwitz doesn’t think so and has some rational explanations given to him by Netflix themselves. When these stories about the stock drop landed, Reed Hastings called Hurwitz to assure him and said, “I dunno if you follow our stock, but it goes up and down every single day. It certainly doesn’t go down based on reviews — at that point in two papers,” Hurwitz recalled. “I don’t know why the stock went down, but it’s none of my business. They don’t discuss numbers, but this is a giant success for them in every one of their metrics, and that’s great news, because that’s [our] first responsibility.”
For more Arrested Development, the new Netflix series check out our feature 12 Observations On What Worked & What Didn’t In The New Netflix Season Of ‘Arrested Development’ and The 5 Best Episodes Of ‘Arrested Development’ From The First 3 Seasons.