Cross at the Crossroads

Comedian and actor David Cross offers up his views on the future of video entertainment

David Cross has a lot going on these days. His The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, a London-based IFC series he co-wrote, entered its second season this month, and last November, Netflix confirmed that it is developing a new season of Arrested Development— the offbeat comedy Cross co-starred in that was cancelled by Fox after three seasons in 2006 but achieved a massive cult following via DVDs and the Web. Adweek spoke to Cross about a “phenomenal” smoked turkey sandwich and how he “intentionally misled” IFC.

Adweek: Can you tell us anything new about Arrested Development?

I’m not being cute in any way when I say this, but I know as much as you know. I have the same source of information, which is, 90 percent of the time, the Internet. That’s how I found out about the Netflix thing.

But what do you think about the show being picked up by an online streaming service like Netflix?

I would suspect that unlike Fox, they will give very few notes and just say, “Look, you do what we’re hiring you to do. You’re the best person to do that. We’ll leave you alone, go shoot it and God bless every one of us.”

How do you think it could impact the show?

I would imagine it would negate any inside jokes about working for Fox. There’s also going to be absolutely no eye toward ad revenue or “we need to get social conservatives in Kansas to watch the show.” Netflix won’t care about that . . . Now ask a long question, because I’m going to take a bite of sandwich.

What kind of sandwich?

That was a very short question. Smoked turkey and cheese on some bread. Really good sourdough wheat. It’s phenomenal . . . It’s from Texas.

Are you planning any new specials or tours?

Not anytime soon. I pretty much burned all of my material on my last CD and special. Now that I’m back and not really working, I will be doing more sets in the city and just accruing more material. And it will take me a while to get a strong hour and a half—a year of constantly going out [on stage].

Is Todd Margaret done? Is there talk of another season?

No, no, it’s done. The story is done. When you watch till the end, it will become very clear this is the final episode.

Was it clear at the beginning of your relationship with IFC that this was going to be a two-season show?

No, I would say I intentionally misled them—not in a nefarious way, but I told them it was possible to do three seasons. I even said it in the press, but in my heart I knew it would be two seasons. When I presented the last script before we started shooting, they were like “Wait, how can it be the end? Can’t we leave the door open?” and I was like “nah.” And they were fine with that.

Do you think the television industry is substantially different than it was, say, a decade ago?

What’s changed is the old idea of trying to get as much ad revenue as possible while people sit down and watch a show while it is being broadcast in real time. People are getting programming through the Internet and streaming. And then the shows live in perpetuity through DVD sales. With Arrested Development, you can see how incredibly shortsighted Fox was [when they cancelled the show] because they’re looking at ratings going like “Oh my God, we’re getting a 1.26 share, this is terrible.” Yet it sold 80 million DVDs.

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