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'Arrested Development' creator rejected network demand to 'dumb it down'

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BANFF, Alta. - "Arrested Development" creator Mitch Hurwitz said he had to fight against network demands that he dumb down the wildly popular comedy about the dysfunctional Bluth family.

"After the second season the note was dumb it down. They (Fox) would not bring me back for a third season unless I signed a contract to make it 25 per cent less — that was the phrase they used," Hurwitz said Tuesday during a session at the Banff World Media Festival.

"I'm somebody who probably cares a little too much about other people's experience and I really wanted Fox to be happy. But I just had to say I can't do it and they did say you can make it, but we'll basically just make your life miserable."

The show follows the formerly wealthy and fictitious Bluth family and is presented in a continuous format. Ron Howard serves as an executive producer and the series' uncredited narrator.

The sitcom originally aired on Fox for three seasons from November 2003 to February 2006. A fourth season of 15 episodes was released on Netflix in May of last year. Each episode focused on a different character showing his or her point of view of an event that was later explained.

A fifth season is still a possibility, but nothing has been finalized.

Hurwitz said Netflix is "definitely interested," but at this point there's no cast although the actors are interested and his next move will be to work out a timeline and what to do next.

"It's a priority for everybody."

Hurwitz said there were some moments explored in season 4 that did give him a certain level of discomfort but only after they were already filmed.

"We did a sexual predator story in the fourth season and nothing actually happened, but I really did get cold feet. It was fine in the writing room, fine on the stage and then when we got into post-production I really got cold feet about it and almost killed the whole thing," said Hurwitz, who was joined on the panel by actor Henry Winkler, who played bumbling lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn on the show.

"We're in a very sensitive time right now. We see people get in big trouble for tweets and things like that."

Winkler, who was originally only expected to play in two episodes on the series, drew laughter when he discussed the torment his character was put through, including a preference for the company of male transvestite prostitutes as well as some multi-partner sexual escapades.

"I've embraced it," he said to laughter. "And you gave me some sort of disease from the bushes from the truck stop that itched."

Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter.

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