Showtime is certainly not playing coy about its desire to pick up "Arrested Development" if FOX cancels the show. But the cable network doesn't seem to be blind in its ardor either.
Speaking to reporters Thursday (Jan. 19) at the Television Critics Association press tour, Showtime Entertainment president Robert Greenblatt acknowledged that his network and 20th Century Fox TV, which produces "Arrested," have been discussing the show. (ABC has reportedly expressed interest as well.)
"I always thought it was probably a better fit on a cable network than on a broadcast network," Greenblatt says. "And you know, in fact, I think it really does fit in with a lot of the things that we're doing."
Still, several things have to fall into place for the Emmy-winning series to make the move to premium cable. FOX, first of all, has to cancel the show -- which it probably will, given network head Peter Ligouri's statement earlier in the week that it's "highly unlikely" the show will return to FOX next season. And Greenblatt says striking the right deal between network and studio "is complicated and takes longer than you'd ever imagine."
More important, though, Greenblatt says Showtime would only want "Arrested Development" if its creator, Mitch Hurwitz, remains involved.
"I think he's the genius behind it, and he hasn't yet come to that decision to continue the show," Greenblatt says of Hurwitz. "He's been through a lot of sort of emotional roller coaster over the last couple years. So he finished the season for FOX, and he's in that period of, you know, thinking about whether he wants to continue the show."
"Arrested's" audience of about 4.2 million viewers per week is pretty small for a broadcast network. But for Showtime, which is in fewer than 20 million homes, even, say, a quarter of that number would be considered a success. The lure of the show could potentially lead to new subscriptions, meaning a bigger possible audience for Showtime's other series.
"[Picking up 'Arrested'] at a point in time where we're having a good deal of success both critically and commercially makes a really big statement for us," Showtime Chairman and CEO Matthew Blank says. There's a lot of things we could be doing right now. But for me, the prospects of having 'Arrested Development' and [recent Golden Globe honoree] 'Weeds' on this network, you know, at the same time are quite remarkable."