Okay, a moment of Bluth: Last night’s Inside the Actors Studio, which featured much of Arrested Development’s cast and the show’s creator, wasn’t exactly essential viewing.
For starters, several key players were missing – including David Cross, Michael Cera, and Tony Hale. (A Bluth reunion with no Buster?! Sacrilege!) And secondly, even though the group was pared down, there were still so many talented people onstage that an hour was hardly long enough to give any of them a worthy spotlight – no matter how quickly the show’s editors cut from answer to answer. I almost wish the Studio had instead welcomed only a few of AD’s stars, especially if the entire cast wasn’t going to be around anyway; at least that way, we could have gone a little bit deeper.
Still, the episode was an entertaining hour of television – and it had a fair share of illuminating moments. Here are the top few, plus a couple extra tidbits gleaned from the additional video clips posted on Bravo’s website:
1. This is how Jeffrey Tambor describes the difference between conservative Judaism (what his family practices) and reform Judaism: Conservatives are “Jews that read from the Torah. Reform Jews just sing showtunes.”
2. Also, Jeffrey Tambor still teaches acting classes. And his professional website sort of seems like it was designed by George Bluth Sr.
3. Portia de Rossi was born Amanda Lee Rogers; she decided to change her name at 14, snagging “Portia” from The Merchant of Venice” and de Rossi from “the end credits of a movie.”
4. Don’t worry about how to pronounce Alia Shawkat’s last name, which is Iraqi in origin; she likes to switch it up depending on her mood. Also, here’s her describing her college career: “I went to Sarah Lawrence for… two days.”
5. Here’s Mitch Hurwitz’s one-sentence distillation of Arrested: “I always thought if you were to ask any of them, they would say they’re the only sane member of the family.” The show’s fourth season, designed as a series of character showcases, was meant to really highlight that line of thinking.
6. Jessica Walter, in character as Lucille Bluth, describing her relationship to her neediest child: “I need Buster, just not all the time…He needs a strong hand.” And then she cracked up, realizing what she had just said.
7. de Rossi and her wife, Ellen DeGeneres, officially debuted as a couple at the 2004 Golden Globes, when Arrested Development was first nominated for best musical or comedy TV series. The two had been dating for just about a month. The event doubled as de Rossi’s public coming out: “For me, it was the first time that I stepped out as a gay woman, really,” she said.
8. Mitch Hurwitz says that he gave his characters such similar names – George, George Michael, George Oscar, etc. – because he thought it would “compel you to pay attention…” though he also admits that may be a B.S. after-the-fact explanation.
9. The cast was warned ahead of time that the production would be bare-bones – Jessica Walters describes their dressing rooms as “cells.”
10. Hurwitz basically tricked Ben Stiller into guest starring on the show. “Early on in an episode, we were going to establish this competing magician, and I contacted Ben Stiller’s people, and I said, ‘Could I just use a picture of him? No strings attached,” he explained. “ ‘And then if he ever wants to do the show’ – which was probably not on his radar at that point – ‘we will have already set him up.’” Stiller’s reps agreed. Half a year later, Stiller called Hurwitz about some unrelated business – and Hurwitz, who assumed that Stiller wanted to do AD, told him they’d shoot his guest appearance the following week. Miraculously, everything worked out. Or should I say… wonderfully?