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Interest in 'Arrested' strictly conditional

Showtime executive says the network would take the show only if creator Mitch Hurwitz stays on board.

January 21, 2006|Lynn Smith | Times Staff Writer

Showtime wants the acclaimed comedy "Arrested Development" should Fox decide to cancel it, but only on one condition: creator Mitch Hurwitz must come with it.

"If only a small fraction of the loyal audience that [watches it] on Fox came to Showtime, it would be one of our highest-rated shows," Robert Greenblatt, Showtime's president of entertainment, told the Television Critics Assn. Thursday evening.

A deal breaker in the talks with 20th Century Fox Television would be if Hurwitz chooses not to remain at the helm, Greenblatt said. "I think he's the genius behind it," he said. "And he hasn't yet come to that decision to continue the show." A decision will be reached in about two weeks, he said. Hurwitz was unavailable for comment.

Fox President of Entertainment Peter Liguori told the critics no final decision had been made to cancel "Arrested Development" but it was "highly unlikely" the low-rated show would continue past Feb. 10, when it concludes its third season.

ABC also expressed interest in acquiring the show in December, but no action has been taken, a spokesman said.

Greenblatt said the show's bold originality makes it a better fit for cable, where writers have more freedom. But observing that the show has found much of its humor in bleeping out bad language, Matthew Blank, Showtime's chairman and chief executive joked, "Maybe we'd make an exception and let him bleep."

Showtime also announced six new documentary shows and four new original series for 2006-07 including: "The Tudors," a 10-episode series starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as a young Henry VII, which has yet to start filming in Ireland; "Dexter," a 12-episode series starring Michael C. Hall as a likable but twisted Miami forensics expert-serial killer; six episodes of "This American Life," adapted for television by NPR host Ira Glass; and "Three Days in September," a documentary narrated by Julia Roberts about 330 Chechen hostages killed by terrorists in 2004.

Greenblatt said "Huff," the ensemble series that stars Hank Azaria, Blythe Danner and Oliver Platt, and is about to begin its second season, would "probably" be renewed for a third.

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