John Beard was the news anchor at Fox's Los Angeles station, KTTV, in 2003 when Arrested Development producers tried to recruit him to appear on the sitcom. At first Beard passed, but then, he says, "They explained they wanted me to play myself and that the writers appreciated my sense of humor. I thought it was one of the funniest things I had ever read. I couldn't turn it down."
For three seasons he was seen reporting on the fictional exploits of the Bluth family. Beard, who in real life is now a morning-show host for Buffalo, N.Y.'s WGRZ, flew back to L.A. to shoot scenes for Netflix's Arrested reboot and is in nine of the episodes.
In the Arrested world, the newscaster has become the host of a To Catch A Predator-like show, quits his anchor job and defaults on his house. House of Lies' Ben Schwartz even plays his slacker son, John Beard, Jr.
Creator Mitchell Hurwitz says the story of Beard's career collapse on the show mirrors the Bluths' prospects. "I don't know why this guy isn't taking some of Brian Williams' jobs in comedy," Hurwitz says. "He's excellent. He plays it serious and also makes fun of himself, and also seems real. I just love him."
Beard says his character's career evolution in Season 4 also "mirrors that of every long-time TV news anchor, as the business transitions into a much leaner enterprise than it was when we started." He knows that situation first-hand, having left KTTV in 2007 when his contract wasn't renewed. "I think news viewers in every market have seen that change reflected in many local stations," Beard says. "Mitch managed to put that and the housing market collapse to good comedic use."
Beard says he was surprised to see how much screen time he has in the new season of Arrested. He shot all of his scenes in one 12-hour day, including an extended scene with David Cross (Tobias).
"That scene took a lot longer than it should have because I kept laughing at David," Beard says. "Mitch Hurwitz was tweaking the scene on the fly, and David was changing lines as we went. Every time he said something new I started laughing. It was great insight into why the show works, because Mitch kept evolving it and it got funnier every time we did it."
Beard has also played a newscaster (usually a version of himself) on 24 and The Bernie Mac Show. But it's his ongoing role on Arrested that gets the most attention (outside of his actual job as a newsman, of course). "I think it caught a lot of people in the Buffalo-Toronto area by surprise," he says. "But Arrested Development fans here are like they are everywhere. If you're connected in any way with the show, it's ultra cool."