Media conference calls aren't supposed to start like this. Mitch Hurwitz, the man behind the brilliant Arrested Development, and Saturday Night Live's Will Forte hop on the line and start talking to each other. And continue to talk to each other, almost toying with the journalists that are in listen-only mode.
Hurwitz's face and name are probably not as recognizable and Forte's, but Hurwitz is showing how he created one of television's best-ever comedies with razor-sharp wit and a mind that's working at about a billion times faster than the speed of a normal human being. He doesn't need to make jokes, he's here to promote the new Fox show Sit Down, Shut Up, which he adapted from an Australian series. He doesn't need to make jokes, but here he is talking about Will Forte's high-school yearbook days. He doesn't need to make jokes, but I don't think he knows how to do anything else--they just happen…instantly.
When it's time to get down to business, Hurwitz finally talks about his new show.
"I think it will be equally insulting to every part of the country," Hurwitz says. "People are similar everywhere, they're motivated by self interest. This show started in Australia. It's just about oblivious people. The original show in a way kind of led to Arrested Development, I just loved the idea of people who were equally clueless and equally self involved. I think they're representative of people everywhere."
Sit Down, Shut Up is an animated show about teachers at a small-town school in Florida. It's unique animated style features drawn characters on real photographs, something traditional animation frowns upon.
"The early response from bloggers was 'These guys don't know what they're doing,'" Hurwitz says. But by using photo backgrounds, there's an illusion that the show still takes place in the real world. But, "[The background shots] are incredibly dull, it reminds is what a prison school was." Nor are the shots representative of Florida, and that's part of the joke. "It does take place in a small town, but whenever they go out of town, they're clearly in Glendale and Pasadena."
Though the show is set in a school, don't expect a lot of rugrats running around. "The kids are almost non-existent," says Hurwitz. "They're as integral to the show as paper is to The Office."
Speaking of The Office, Hurwitz likens Will Forte, who voices the character Stuart Prozackian, to a young Steve Carrell or Jim Carrey. In fact, he's considering casting Forte in the upcoming Arrested Development movie.
"I haven't even written it yet," says Hurwitz, of the Arrested film. "But yes, we're hoping to make the movie this year. We have a lot of little pieces. With the show it has always been about tying all the pieces together, but none of them really make a movie. We’re still working on the pieces."
Hurwitz is quickly picking up on the differences between writing an animated show versus a live-action show, but not everything is going the way he thought it would.
"I thought maybe I could avoid some work by doing it as an animated show," Hurwitz explained. "Cut to 17 months later and I'm rewriting the pilot… it just never ends."
Sit Down, Shut Up premieres April 19 on Fox.