‘Arrested Development’s’ future: Clear or murky?

October 3, 2011

You know how some women have affairs with married men that drag on for years because the women believe the men who promise they are going to leave their wives for them?

Five years after the cancellation of “Arrested Development,” its creator, Mitch Hurwitz, is still promising heartbroken fans that he will bring back the franchise as a movie.

Over the weekend, he put another diamond bracelet in front of them: the notion that more episodes of the series would serve as a walk-up to the movie.

In his defense, what Hurwitz said Sunday at a New Yorker Festival Q&A session with “Arrested” cast and crew was:

(a) He is working on the movie screenplay;

(b) He had decided that the movie would be best served if he created another 10 or so episodes that could move the characters’ story lines to where he wants them for the film;

(c) He does not own the franchise, and it is not up to him whether either gets made;

(d) He was “80 percent of the way to an answer” on the movie, not to a “thumbs up” on the movie, but to an “answer” — which could be good news or bad.

Hurwitz did not say that:

(a) Any studio had agreed to make the movie;

(b) Any studio had agreed to make the episodes;

(c) Any network had agreed to distribute the episodes.

Yet by Monday morning, it was being widely reported in the press that:

●“ ‘Arrested Development’ new episode, movie confirmed.”

●“ ‘Arrested Development’ will return, with new episodes and a movie.”

●“The upcoming ‘Arrested Development’ movie and episodes: Best news ever or best news EVER?”

And so on.

Those reports brought a smile to some faces at Fox, where “Arrested Development” was reluctantly canceled in 2006 after three seasons.

Hurwitz is very popular there. The suits at Fox love listening to him talk about how he loves to play games with the press regarding “Arrested Development.” And how he, every once in a while, likes to fan the flames by planting a bogus story about the franchise’s comeback in the press — like the time everyone was reporting that Michael Cera was the reason the movie was being held up, because he wanted too much money.

Pure horseradish, Hurwitz confessed Sunday to the adoring, ticket-buying, snookered crowd at the festival.

For which they adored him all the more.

Rooney’s swan song ratings

About 17 million people tuned in for Andy Rooney’s swan song as weekly commentator on CBS’s Sunday newsmag “60 Minutes,” according to early Sunday stats.

The ratings waters were muddied by a 23-minute football overrun Sunday night, pushing the newsmag back. Early stats from Nielsen are time-slot-specific, not show-specific.

In an unusually non-crotchety final commentary, Rooney told viewers: “Not many people in this world are as lucky as I’ve been.”

“I’ve done a lot of complaining here, but I can’t complain about my life,” the 92-year-old commentator added.

Last week, CBS announced that after more than three decades on air, Rooney, who has been featured since 1978, would make his last regular appearance Sunday.

Industry pundits were guesstimating that the audience for Rooney’s farewell would shake out between 16.5 million and 17 million viewers. That would be a hefty ratings hike compared with the previous week’s 12 million viewers, who tuned in to the newsmag’s season debut.

Say you wanna ‘Revolution?’

“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’s” exuberant host, Ty Pennington, has joined the list of talking heads on ABC daytime talker “The Revolution,” set to premiere in January.

Ty will battle for the spotlight with previously announced “Revolution” hosts Tim Gunn — star and notable “mentor” of Lifetime’s “Project Runway” — and fitness/nutrition celebrity Harley Pasternak, who is maybe best known for the 5-Factor Diet.

The addition of Ty is not entirely surprising given his ABC connections — and that “The Revolution” is being produced by the same company that produces the weight-loss edition of “Extreme Makeover.”

It’s unclear who’s scratching whose back: “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” is no longer the ratings force it once was. Last Sunday, it attracted about 7 million viewers, finishing well behind NBC’s Sunday night football game (18 million viewers) and CBS’s “The Amazing Race” (10.8 million).

Also, ABC finished fourth Sunday among English-language broadcast networks among the 18- to-49-year-old viewers that the networks target — even behind Fox’s comedies.

So how does the goofy/quirky “Trading Spaces” carpenter turned Disney design-guru-cum-product-pitcher fit into a show — the hook of which is that each week, some woman’s five-month weight-loss journey will time-lapse in just five days, with daily results and a final transformation revealed on Friday?

ABC’s billing the show as one that helps “viewers complete transformations in all areas of their lives, including family, physical and emotional well-being, fashion, home design, personal finance, food, jobs and more.”

Ty’s empire already includes Ty Pennington Impressions with Westminster Fabrics; the Signature Home Furnishings by Ty Pennington line; a seasonal home decor line at Sears called Ty Pennington Style; and a flooring line called Ty Pennington Collection for Lumber Liquidators, available in stores and online nationwide.

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