DID YOU READ

“Arrested Development” casting director describes how the Bluth family came to be

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Michael Bluth could have been played by Ben Schenkman. Think about that as you binge-watch season four of “Arrested Development” this week.

One of the previous casting directors for 20th Century Fox, Marcia DeBonis, told IFC that her proudest achievement was placing the three New York hires: Will Arnett as G.O.B., Tony Hale as Buster, and Jessica Walter as Lucille — and not getting her way when it came to the part of Michael. “Ben Schenkman came in for the part of Michael, and we sent in the tape for him, and they wanted to fly him out, to test him, and a week later, they suddenly started testing Jason Bateman instead,” she recalled. “I was furious, and I called them, and they said they would still test Ben, but that if they didn’t test Jason that week, they were going to lose him. And I was like, ‘Who the fuck is Jason Batemen?’ Because, remember, this was his comeback. And sure enough, they loved him, and Ben didn’t even get to test.”

Of course, once she saw the finished product, “I realized I was wrong and Jason couldn’t have been more perfect for it,” she said. “I was apologizing to everyone, ‘I’m sorry I was such a bitch!’ because I had been apoplectic about it.”

DeBonis, however, had previously had someone else in mind for Michael Bluth — Will Arnett. DeBonis had known him “forever,” but she wasn’t aware of his capacity for comedy. “He was beautiful,” she said, “but because he was so cute, I wrongly judged him as the cute guy.” At first, she thought he would be a good fit, but Arnett wasn’t available because was in the middle of a play, so she let it go. But three or four weeks into the casting process, “Arrested Development” was still having a hard time finding someone for G.O.B., and so they started checking on people who previously weren’t available but whose schedules might have freed up. And with the table reads already in progress, the part needed to be cast right away. Luckily, Arnett’s part in the play was over, so in the space of a day, “we got him in [for a cold reading] that afternoon, and he totally got it, very much by the seat of his pants,” DeBonis said. “And he made Gob what he was. I didn’t get what G.O.B. was — the arrogance of being a dick and still being likeable, clueless with an edge, with something still vulnerable about him in a weird way — until he did it. I didn’t know how funny it was, until he did it.”

Walter, DeBonis had to convince to test for the show, because she was more of an “actor of reputation” than the others being considered. “I don’t think she understood the tone of the show at first,” DeBonis said. “Nowadays, everything’s a mockumentary, but back then, there wasn’t a lot. So I got the first breakdown, which was a very bare bones run-and-gun piece, with a loosie-goosie feel, and I said to her, ‘This is like ‘Spinal Tap.’ Because the Christopher Guest movies were the closest thing to this. And once I explained that to her, she totally got it.”

Hale, DeBonis discovered doing a funny dance to Styx’s “Mr. Roboto” in a Volkswagen commercial, an origin that was later used as a joke on “Arrested Development.” “I was like, ‘That guy is so funny!'” she recalled. “I tracked him down, and I was just smitten with him. I thought he was so special.” DeBonis had tried Hale for a number of parts over the years but he was never quite right (“he’s interesting and off,” she said), but this was one where she knew he would be just right. “They wanted off!” she said with glee. “Finally, here was a part where Tony wouldn’t be considered too offbeat.” Hale was the first person she put on tape for consideration for Buster, and then the network flew him out for his audition. Buster wasn’t a big role in the pilot, but he added some “deep-seated sweetness” to the mix of abrasive characters, and what Hale brought to the character was a way to make Buster seem “more clueless than dumb,” DeBonis said. “You just want to take care of him.”

“I never thought in a million years that this pilot would get picked up,” she said, laughing. “It was so new and different and unique, and sometimes new and unique just doesn’t get picked up. So the fact that this all worked was a great surprise.”

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.