NAB Report: Arrested Development Stars Visit Netflix Panel
David Cross, Will Arnett, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, and Alia Shawkat add starpower to Netflix session.
While there were several entertainment A-listers on the stage, it was clearly the cast of "Arrested Development" that the audience came to see. In an NAB panel led by Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos, several members of the fan favorite series showed their excitement for Netflix picking up "Arrested Development" for a long-awaited fourth series.
"Arrested Development" was cancelled by Fox six years ago, and getting the cast back together took "more meetings than you can imagine," said Sarandos. Free of network constraints, he said the creators would write as many episodes as they needed to tell the next story of the Bluth family. He added that he would love to do additional seasons after that.
"It's a blessing from God," said Jessica Walter, who plays Lucille Bluth, on getting back together with the show's cast and creative team.
The audience was thrilled when Will Arnett (Gob Bluth) gave them a "Come on!" and David Cross (Tobias Fünke) explained that he couldn't see The Blue Man Group while in Las Vegas (despite an open invitation) because he's a Scientologist now and is afraid of the engrams.
All the upcoming fourth season "Arrested Development" episodes will be offered on Netflix at once, prompting an audience member to ask show executive producer Mitchell Hurwitz if he was afraid of spoilers. "It's a new puzzle for us," he answered, saying that he hopes viewers will watch the full season then go back and view it again, looking for clues they missed. He noted that in comedy, however, plot twists aren't as important as characters.
Besides the stars of "Arrested Development," the panel featured stars and creators of four other Netflix original series. Steven Van Zandt, star of "Lilyhammer," which debuted in January, 2012, appeared in a pre-recorded video. He's now touring with Bruce Springsteen and the rest of the E-Street Band.
"We are thrilled with the viewers' reaction to the show," said Van Zandt. Sarandos noted that there would be a second season of "Lilyhammer.
Sarandos showed a video introducing upcoming show "House of Cards," which will star Kevin Spacey. David Fincher will executive produce the show and direct the first episode. "House of Cards" is a remake of a BBC series.
Director Eli Roth and actress Famke Janssen took the stage to promote "Hemlock Grove," based on the horror novel by Brian McGreevy, who was also on stage. Janssen said the idea of appearing on a TV series scared her, but that doing a 13-episdoe Netflix series left her time for other pursuits. The creator and head writer of "Weeds," Jenji Kohan, promoted "Orange Is the New Black," an upcoming series about doing time in a minimum-security women's prison.
"I also love the sense that we're pioneers," said Kohan. "It's such a great model and we don't want to f*** it up."
"These five shows are just the beginning," said Sarandos.
Along with promoting Netflix originals, Sarandos talked about his relationship with Hollywood, who he depends on for content, but with whom he also competes.
"I'm used to sneaking into these events, so thanks or having me," Sarandos joked.
Netflix is a friend to broadcast and cable, Sarandos offered. As proof, he told how 3.5 million people watched some of "Mad Men" season 4 on Netflix in the time between seasons 4 and 5, and 800,000 viewers watched all of season 4. As a result, the season 5 premiere enjoyed a 20 percent larger audience than season 4's premiere had. Lion's Gate benefited twice, he said, getting licensing fees from Netflix and then enjoying a larger audience.
"These are not exceptions. They represent the new normal in serialized television," said Sarandos.
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