Monday, March 25, 2013

Q&A: John Beard on L.A. News, and His Return to "Arrested Development"

John Beard

In Southern California, we all still remember John Beard for his lengthy stints as a news anchor at KTTV/Fox 11, and before that, at KNBC/4. But Beard gained a whole new level of recognition for playing the news anchor of fictional "Fox 6" on "Arrested Development," frequently reporting on the exploits of Orange County's Bluth family. (Beard also played a newscaster on another Fox series, "24.")

Beard is now in Buffalo, hosting a morning show there (where he wins the timeslot), having departed L.A. in 2009. But he still keeps tabs on Los Angeles, and recently flew back here to shoot some scenes for the "Arrested Development" revival, set to hit Netflix in May. I recently asked Beard to answer a few questions over email:

FRANKLIN AVENUE: As talk of an "Arrested Development" revival swirled for years, did you ever imagine that one day you'd be reprising your role as "Fox 6 News Anchor John Beard"?
JOHN BEARD: I was looking forward to the series revival as a viewer, but since I’m not on the air now in LA I wasn’t sure if I’d be a part of it. But at the taping, the head writer told me I was always going to be in the new series no matter what. I’m very appreciative for that!

FRANKLIN AVENUE: Usually TV show news anchor cameos are "one and done." But you made regular appearances throughout the show's original three seasons. How did it first come about? Did Mitch Hurwitz write the anchor role with you in mind?
BEARD: You get called on to do a lot of cameo appearances when you’re on the air in Los Angeles, but I said no to most of them over the years. When the producers called me about “Arrested Development” I told them no as well. But they explained they wanted me to play myself and that Mitch and the writers appreciated my sense of humor. They said “Just let me send you the script for the pilot. If you say no I’ll understand.” Well, I thought it was one of the funniest things I had ever read, I couldn’t turn it down.

FRANKLIN AVENUE: What are you up to now?
BEARD:
I’m now anchoring the morning news at WGRZ, the NBC station in Buffalo, NY. This is the first time I’ve done a morning show except for filling in on “Good Day LA” and the "Today Show." I think maybe I should have been doing morning all along, it fits my personality and I’m having great fun.

FRANKLIN AVENUE: How was shooting the show different for you this time?
BEARD:
The first time around, most of my work was done in studio at KTTV, only two episodes were shot with the rest of the cast and crew. This time I shot 12 scenes, all on the lot in Culver City. Most of my scenes were on a “news” set, but there is one long and hilarious scene with David Cross (Tobias).

FRANKLIN AVENUE: I'm sure most people recognize you on the street for being a news anchor, but how often do people want to talk "Arrested Development" with you? What do they ask, and what do you tell them?
BEARD:
It’s a mix. In Buffalo, most people know me from the morning show. In LA, they know me from KNBC and KTTV…including some who think I’m still on. People everyplace (even in Canada) come up to talk about “Arrested Development." And there are sometimes those who say they used to watch me in Chicago. I’ve never worked in Chicago.

FRANKLIN AVENUE: What do you miss most about working in L.A. news?
BEARD:
I miss my friends in the news business there, both the ones I worked with and the ones I competed against.

FRANKLIN AVENUE: What do you miss the least?
BEARD:
I don’t miss having to fight every day to do real news and not fluff.

FRANKLIN AVENUE: When will we see you back on the air in Southern California?
BEARD:
Good question… when somebody has a good answer just leave it on my website (johnbeard.com) or tweet me @jb111.

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