Tuesday, July 08, 2008

'Arrested Development's' Buster In Macon

A couple of things to know about actor Tony Hale.

He has both his hands. He's not a hyper-sensitive mama's boy.

And he's a down-to-Earth, genuinely nice guy.

Hale was in Macon Monday to speak to students and fans at Macon State about being a professional actor. Hale's dad, Mike, is the director of Macon State's Warner Robins campus.

Hale is best-known as the none-too-bright, overly sensitive man-child Buster Bluth on the Emmy-winning "Arrested Development," but he has had a diverse career, beginning with guest spots on "The Sopranos" and "Dawson's Creek" after working for years in commercials.

"AD" opened a lot of doors for Hale, who has gone on to appear in "Andy Barker, PI" and the Will Ferrell movie "Stranger Than Fiction." Currently, he is in the process of wrapping up several film roles, including "The Year of Getting to Know Us" with Jimmy Fallon and "The Informant," which stars Matt Damon and is directing by Steven Soderbergh. Hale is also joining the cast of NBC's "Chuck," playing the new manager of the store that Chuck works at.

So, the big question on everyone's mind is: What is the status of the proposed "Arrested Development" movie? Hale said he gets asked the question a lot, but doesn't really know the status of it. On the one hand, the series was more of a cult hit rather than a ratings giant, so it's a risky proposition for a movie studio. On the other hand, Hale pointed out, the profiles of actors Jason Bateman and Michael Cera have risen considerably since the series, which makes it easier to attract funding.

"Until we start shooting it, I'm not even going there," Hale said with a chuckle. "But if we do it, I want a bionic hand!"

Hale was asked about his favorite episodes and characters on the series. He said he loved the plotlines with his mother, Jessica Walter, and his girlfriend, Liza Minelli - both named Lucille. He said it's difficult to decide on a favorite character besides Buster.

"Everyone brought something to the table," he said.

But he did admit that he cracked up during nearly every scene he shot with GOB (Will Arnett), one of his brothers on the show.

Hale also had a lot of praise for the show's writers. When asked about co-star David Cross' penchant for improv, he said it rarely happened because of the quality of scripts.

"The scripts were so good that no one wanted to get off-page," Hale said.

Hale said even though the series was on the bubble for all three of its seasons, the cast decided to enjoy the experience of making it rather than worrying about being canceled. Of course, it didn't help that the series at one point ran in the same timeslot as "Grey's Anatomy" and "CSI."

"There wasn't too much hope for us," he said.

Hale listed his acting influences from comics like Steve Martin and Tim Conway to giants like Robert Duvall, singling out his work in "The Apostle."

Hale said it's nice to have so many gigs lined up over the next year or so, because actors often live paycheck to paycheck.

Hale made several references to the fact that he is often cast as a bumbler or as the leading man's goofy best friend. I asked if he was worried about being typecast in such roles for his career.

"I love it," he said. "I really enjoy it. It's just a fact that I'm never going to get the girl, but that's fine."

TUESDAY'S BEST BETS: It's depressing to think of how great "Arrested Development" truly was and how it constantly struggled for ratings, and then look at tonight's TV lineup.

In the land of the slightly bizarre, NBC goes promotional crazy when it pits the cast of "My Name Is Earl" against the cast of "American Gladiators" in tonight's "Celebrity Family Feud." (NBC, 8 p.m.) I'd love to come up with something witty to say about that, but I think it speaks for itself. It's followed by "America's Got Talent."

The wackiness continues on ABC with "Wipeout" and "I Survived a Japanese Game Show," followed by Primetime special "The Outsiders" at 10 p.m.

The two finalists square off in "Hell's Kitchen," (Fox, 9 p.m.), which follows a new "Moment of Truth."


zodin2008 said...

I never could get into this show - I watched about 3 episodes and hated it - but Tony Hale seems like a really nice guy and it's easy to root for him to have a great career.

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, then I'd have to say you missed out, my friend, because AD was one of the most innovative sitcoms ever. But I would agree that it was so high concept that it wasn't for everyone. Still, would love to see the AD movie.

illnevertell said...

I wonder how many sitcoms could be termed "high concept" or "innovative" simply by removing their laugh tracks? Because if there's one thing I've decided about sitcoms, it's that laugh tracks f---ing suck.

Phillip Ramati said...

Laugh tracks do suck. But AD was innovative in other ways, such as the characters it developed and Ron Howard's voice over narration. Plus, the use of some great guest stars and oftentimes breaking the fourth wall made the show pretty unique.