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THE EMMYS | THE UNDERDOG

Major 'Development'

The series that could hardly get arrested steals the show with five comedy Emmys.

September 20, 2004|Lynn Smith | Times Staff Writer

It ranked 116th in the ratings last season, but Fox's underdog satire "Arrested Development" walked away with more Emmys than "The Sopranos" on Sunday night -- five, including honors for outstanding comedy series. Its other awards included nods for direction and writing.

Mitchell Hurwitz, who won for outstanding writing in a comedy for the show, quipped that the voters must have made a mistake: "It doesn't seem like they got together and got this all right," he said.

Many of the nine cast members also were in shock, said Jason Bateman, who plays the sanest member of Orange County's oddball Bluth clan. "I think I blacked out when they said our name," he said. "I'm glad I TiVo-ed it."

If any show needed an Emmy, it's the critically acclaimed but little-watched eccentric comedy that barely survived its first season. The show's writers, actors and producers danced off the stage Sunday night knowing the show's awards raised the possibility that more viewers would take notice and their work could continue. The show's second season begins in November.

"It means our time is coming. I believe it's going to happen," said executive producer David Nevins.

Many critics praised the freshman show, about a privileged family that falls apart after its patriarch is jailed for fraud, but ratings languished at the bottom end of the scale.

Besides the critics, Nevins said he felt the cast had the support of the Emmy audience, judging by the applause for cast member Jeffrey Tambor, who was nominated but did not win for supporting actor in a comedy.

"There's been a lot of hard work on this show from everybody, and they deserve it," Hurwitz said.

Now that the future looks brighter, Bateman said he was just starting to see his career flash before his eyes. "It's just amazing. Hopefully this will help us stay on the air, and I can do what for me has been the best job of my life."

The show's producers have been counting on the Oct. 19 release of the first-season DVD to bring a surge of new viewers. Now their hopes are even higher. Nevins said a sticker will be placed on every DVD: "Emmy Winner."

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