The Bluth banana stand is real, George Sr. was almost Tobias, and the series was inspired by “Cops”
The big news from the "Bluth Family Reunion" panel at the New Yorker Festival was series creator Mitch Hurwitz's announcement of an "Arrested Development" return to TV before the long-anticipated movie.
But as the entire cast gathered together for the first time since they wrapped their Emmy-winning comedy in 2006, there were plenty of other fan-pleasing nuggets dropped throughout their raucous conversation.
Here are 13 fun things we learned about the show and its cast:
1. Portia de Rossi, who plays Bluth sister Lindsay, said the initial script for "Arrested Development" came with a cover letter that indicated the series would be shot with handheld cameras, that there would not be a lot of frills on set and that, absolutely, under no circumstances, would any "diva" behavior be tolerated. "I thought, 'What have we gotten ourselves into?'" she said.
2. Jason Bateman, who plays Michael, the only sane (relatively speaking) Bluth sibling, said the cast hadn't even really rehearsed together when they began filming the first episode, and filming took place on a boat. But he said when Jeffrey Tambor, as about-to-be-imprisoned Bluth papa George, spoke the first words of the series, "that set the tone for us." They cast knew they would play the show "deadly straight, no winking," according to Bateman.
3. Tambor added that, when the pilot was shot, he was not yet an official cast member. "I was only a day player at that point," said the actor, who'd worked together with Hurwitz on the short-lived NBC comedy "Everything's Relative."
4. David Cross, as Lindsay Bluth's "never-nude" husband Tobias Fünke: "I had to fight for the moustache," referring to his character's trademark facial fur. Cross and Hurwitz said former Fox entertainment president Gail Berman did not like the network's comedy characters to have moustaches, so, while the cast was on the boat shooting the pilot episode, phone calls were going back and forth about whether or not Cross could wear the moustache.
5. Hurwitz originally wanted Tambor to play Tobias.
6. The Bluth Banana Stand is real. Sorta. When Hurwitz was 13, he and his brother Michael started their own business, selling homemade chocolate chip cookies, out of an abandoned taco stand in Newport Beach, Calif. Their company's name: The Chipyard. It still exists, in a spin-off branch started by the Hurwitz boys' father, Mark, in Boston.
7. "Arrested Development" executive producer and narrator Ron Howard — who participated in Sunday's reunion via speakerphone from California — originally came up with the idea of using the mockumentary format to unfold a family comedy, and then worked together with Hurwitz to develop it. Howard's inspiration: lots of reality TV, including episodes of "Cops."
8. The series was originally intended to be largely improvised, and was cast specifically with actors who had proven improve skills. "But I would go (to the set) to talk to (the cast) and ask them if they were improvising, and they would say, 'We're free to, but the scripts are so great,'" said Howard.
9. Tony Hale, as lovable, hook-handed Bluth brother Buster, on his hint from Hurwitz on how to play the character: "He told me, 'All Buster wants in life is safety.'"
10. Portia de Rossi on her plan for portraying self-absorbed Lindsay: "I just told myself as long as I was completely self-absorbed, it would work out."
11. Hurwitz' wife, actress Mary Jo Keenen, came up with "Bluth" as the family's name. (Keenen had a recurring role on "Seinfeld," as George's childhood neighbor Deena, the one whose father, Pops, ruined George's car, and who thought George was crazy. Well …)
12. Will Arnett, on his narcissistic, Segway-ridin' magician character, Gob Bluth: "I never thought Gob was a jerk … I just thought he was incredibly out of touch."
13. "Arrested Development" fans are a really devoted bunch. One Buster Bluth fan in the audience was carrying Buster's prop hand, the one bitten off by a seal. The prop's price: $350 on eBay.