Jason Bateman, Tony Hale Apologize for Arrested Development NYT Interview

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What should have been a triumphant return for “Arrested Development”, Mitch Hurwitz’s seminal show, has been cast in the shadow of the poor behavior of one of its stars, Jeffrey Tambor. Jeffrey Tambor, who plays George Bluth Sr. and his brother Oscar Bluth on the program were accused, and eventually fired, over inappropriate sexual behavior towards transgender women on the set of “Transparent”, his Amazon program. The cast and crew of “Arrested Development”, however, rallied behind him, promising that his behavior on their set was sometimes a little tense, sure, but nothing was too bad. All but one cast member said this — Jessica Walter. Jessica Walter, who plays Lucille Bluth on the show, opened up about how Jeffrey Tambor yelled at her in a violent manner that made her feel unwelcome on set or around him.

In the New York Times interview addressing the situation, however, it seemed as if Walter’s male co-stars felt more in a hurry to defend the behavior of Tambor rather than making sure that Jessica Walter felt okay working with them. The actress — who has been performing regularly on television since 1960, and has been a star or recurring character on no less than 18 sitcoms (and that’s not counting all of her guest appearances) —expressed, through tears, that she has never been yelled like that on a set. It was a heartbreaking sentiment, and one that was immediately brushed aside by Jeffrey Tambor, Tony Hale and Jason Bateman. From The New York Times interview, which can be read here, when the lashing out at Jessica Walter was brought up, Bateman rushed to defend Jeffrey Tambor’s actions as normal, over the protestations of the 60 year acting veteran Walters, saying —

BATEMAN: Which we’ve all done, by the way.

WALTER: Oh! You’ve never yelled at me.

BATEMAN: Not to belittle what happened.


WALTER: You’ve never yelled at me like that.

BATEMAN: But this is a family and families, you know, have love, laughter, arguments — again, not to belittle it, but a lot of stuff happens in 15 years. I know nothing about “Transparent” but I do know a lot about “Arrested Development.” And I can say that no matter what anybody in this room has ever done — and we’ve all done a lot, with each other, for each other, against each other — I wouldn’t trade it for the world and I have zero complaints.”

The tension in the room expanded when Walter, through tears said that she would forgive Tambor, which led to the following exchange —

BATEMAN: Again, not to belittle it or excuse it or anything, but in the entertainment industry it is incredibly common to have people who are, in quotes, “difficult.” And when you’re in a privileged position to hire people, or have an influence in who does get hired, you make phone calls. And you say, “Hey, so I’ve heard X about person Y, tell me about that.” And what you learn is context. And you learn about character and you learn about work habits, work ethics, and you start to understand. Because it’s a very amorphous process, this sort of [expletive] that we do, you know, making up fake life. It’s a weird thing, and it is a breeding ground for atypical behavior and certain people have certain processes.

SHAWKAT: But that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. And the point is that things are changing, and people need to respect each other differently.

WALTER [THROUGH TEARS]: Let me just say one thing that I just realized in this conversation. I have to let go of being angry at him. He never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever. Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologize. I have to let it go. [Turns to Tambor.] And I have to give you a chance to, you know, for us to be friends again.


TAMBOR: Absolutely.

WALTER: But it’s hard because honestly — Jason says this happens all the time. In like almost 60 years of working, I’ve never had anybody yell at me like that on a set. And it’s hard to deal with, but I’m over it now. I just let it go right here, for The New York Times.

HALE: But I will say, to Jason’s point, we can be honest about the fact that — and not to build a thing — we’ve all had moments.

WALTER: But not like that, not like that. That was bad.

HALE: Not like that. But I’m saying we’ve worked together 15 years, there has been other points of anger coming out.

Since the interview came out, the Arrested Development set has garnered a reputation as a toxic workplace, and Tony Hale, and especially Jason Bateman, as people more willing to protect their male co-worker than care about the feelings of their co-star. Both stars have issued apologies since for their treatment of Walter. Jason Bateman issued his on Twitter, saying —

Tony Hale has said he has apologized to Jessica Walter privately, releasing a statement saying —

“I have reached out to Jessica personally to apologize. Arrested Development is one of my families. Regardless of my intentions, it is clear that my words, both said and unsaid, served to minimize Jessica’s pain and for that I am extremely sorry.”

Often, abusive behavior is tolerated in a workplace setting, and is famous in entertainment settings, but that does not make it okay, even if it is common. And, if Tambor is to continue on the program, there will have to be an honest reckoning with his behavior and treatment of Jessica Walter, because, as much as the rest of the cast would like to sweep it under the rug, it may be a lot harder to do so for the heart of the show — Lucille Bluth.

Do you think Jason Bateman handled the fallout of the New York Times interview well? Will this have an effect on how Arrested Development continues to handle its ongoing issues with Jeffrey Tambor? Let us know in the comments and make sure to follow us on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.

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