Arrested Development may get another lease on life on the small screen: EW has confirmed that the producers of Arrested Development – the critically-acclaimed but short-lived comedy from Mitchell Hurwitz — are in talks with Showtime and Netflix about airing a limited number of original episodes that will update fans on the Bluth clan.
Hurwitz told attendees at the New Yorker Festival Sunday in New York that he wanted to shoot nine to 10 episodes that would air next fall and catch audiences up on the characters’ lives since the series ended in 2006 on Fox. The episodes would be produced by 20th Century Fox TV, which was responsible for the original single camera series that starred Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, and Portia DeRossi.
Hurwitz’ hope is that the limited series would serve as a walk-up to his long-gestating movie. “I have been working on the screenplay for a long time and found that as time went by there was so much more to the story,” he said at the festival, which was also attended by Development stars Bateman, De Rossi, and Cera, as well as David Cross, Will Arnett, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Tony Hale, and Alia Shawkat. Ron Howard, one of the comedy’s producers, even participated via speakerphone. “In fact, where everyone’s been for five years became a big part of the story. So, in working on the screenplay I found that even if I just gave five minutes per character to that backstory, we were halfway through the movie before the characters got together. And that kinda gave birth to this thing we’ve not been pursuing for a while and we’re kinda going public with a little bit. We’re trying to do kind of limited run series into the movie.”
Hurwitz then unveiled his very unconventional plan. “We’re basically hoping to do nine or 10 episodes with almost one character per episode, where like the first episode will just be Buster. We’re kinda picturing it like, um, well the latest joke we have is that, you know, it’s Cambridge, Massachusetts and there’s all these scientists in lab coats and they’re waiting for somebody and Buster comes through the door wearing a lab quote and says `let’s begin,’ and they say, `you don’t get to wear the lab coat, we’re experimenting on you. [garbled] And then we go through his life and we meet the people in his life and maybe he goes to see his therapist who he’s getting a good rate on because it’s Tobias and he’s lost his license. We can do cross overs and things like that. But it’s an unusual style of show I think and we get him to a certain point of peril in his life and then maybe we jump over to like Maeby and she’s living with Cornel West … We’ll do this kind of thing that builds the peril in their lives until they all come together, really, in the first scene of the movie. It requires, and Ron [Howard] has been working on this too, it just requires studios to work together, they don’t normal work together in film and TV. It’s a really ambitious project but it’s also a very simple project in a way because it kind of gives the fans a level of detail for `granularity,’ which is a big word on the East Coast.
“I really have to say, we’ve talked about this, we’re all game, we hated be coy, we’ve been trying to put together this more ambitious idea and I think we’re very close, the script is halfway done and we have to get the film companies on board,” Hurwitz continued. “They’ve always been great to us but you know times are tough and money is tight but I’m very hopeful , there is business left to be done but creatively we have a very specific plan of how it would come out and what we would do and when we would shoot it. Our hope is that, perhaps the series is in the fall.”
Granted, this isn’t the first time that Showtime has emerged as some kind of savior for Arrested Development. Back in 2006, the pay cabler was considering whether to rescue the canceled show but obviously no deal was reached. But this latest development on Development is a horse of a different color — and one that the actors seem to have embraced. The stars in attendance at today’s festival acknowledged that they were keeping their schedules free to make such a series. — With reporting from Aubry D’Arminio