Retooled 'Running Wilde' Set To Air On Fox

The new TV show by Arrested Development creator Mitchell Hurwitz gives Will Arnett a chance to reach a mainstream comedy audience ... after some major revisions. Running Wilde premieres Tuesday night.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:

A new comedy premiering tonight on Fox comes with a golden pedigree, at least for people who like their humor bone dry with a twist of snark. It's the latest from Mitch Hurwitz and Will Arnett, of the acclaimed show "Arrested Development." But so far their new show, "Running Wilde," has hit some bumps.

NPR's Neda Ulaby has more.

NEDA ULABY: How do you follow a show that was on for three seasons, won six Emmys, and made critics practically swoon?

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT")

Unidentified Man: It's "Arrested Development."

ULABY: Unfortunately, it had miserable ratings. The show's since found a passionate following on DVD. Will Arnett played a vain, entitled jerk from a wealthy family.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT")

Unidentified Man #2 (Actor): (as character) Everything all right?

WILL ARNETT: (as George) I just don't want people's kids getting their sticky little fingers all over these $2,600 pants.

ULABY: "Arrested Development" was deemed too edgy by the network. So Fox suggested to star and co-creator Will Arnett that the new show be more mainstream.

ARNETT: I wouldn't say there was pressure. I would say that that was the directive.

ULABY: So "Running Wilde" is intended to be Arnett's stab at broad commercial appeal - his "Two and Half Men," or maybe his "Silver Spoons."

Arnett plays Steve Wilde, the spoiled son of an oil baron who's pining for his childhood sweetheart, a self-righteous hippie who lives in the Amazon.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RUNNING WILDE")

Unidentified Woman (Actor): (as character) We are working with a tribe that is very poor, and their village sits on a giant oil deposit that your father wants. You have to tell him not to drill there.

ARNETT: (as Steven Wilde) Oh, not to drill. Well, that's going to be problematic.

ULABY: What is your attraction to playing wealthy jerks?

ARNETT: I've had a lot of wealthy jerks expose themselves to me, and I mean that exactly as it sounds. No, that's entirely untrue. There is always something really funny to me about a character who's really dumb and super confident. And the built-in quality that super-wealthy people have is that they are completely out of touch with the rest of the world.

ULABY: The big problem with "Running Wilde" is that not many people liked the pilot. Critics uniformly groaned. Fox insisted about half of it be reshot.

ARNETT: You know, it's a do-over, it's a mulligan.

ULABY: Will Arnett says the problem for him is that "Running Wilde" is a romantic comedy - a sort of Sam and Diane situation from "Cheers."

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RUNNING WILDE")

WERTHEIMER: (as character) I am going to finish what I started here.

ARNETT: (as Steven Wilde) Great call.

WERTHEIMER: (as character) I am going to undo every entitled impulse ever drilled into you. I am going to help you, and then together we're going to change the world.

ARNETT: (as Steven Wilde) I can't see a single bad thing coming from that.

ULABY: Arnett is first to say that corny romance is not his strong suit - and that's partly what led to a substantially reshot pilot.

JAMES PONIEWOZIK: It's not terribly different.

ULABY: James Poniewozik covers television for Time Magazine.

PONIEWOZIK: I just felt that it made slight changes from the original that generally were for the worse.

ULABY: A few casting changes that made little difference, in Poniewozik's opinion. And he suspects the show misfired with its cartoonish tribe of Amazon Indians and a Middle Eastern character played by a white actor in brownface.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RUNNING WILDE")

Man #2 (Actor): (as character) Salaam.

Unidentified Man #3 (Actor): (as character) Look who's back from Dubai.

WERTHEIMER: (as character) And I brought back the pride of Yemen.

Man #3 (Actor): (as character) In your carry-on?

ULABY: James Poniewozik finds it encouraging that "Running Wilde"'s creators seem to be approaching the process with a great deal of humility.

PONIEWOZIK: The fact that they recognize that there were problems gives me some hope.

ULABY: Hope fueled by Will Arnett's history with "Arrested Development" and its creator, who built this new show around him. Arnett says that's why the reshoots came almost as a relief. They're eager to do whatever it takes to make their sophomore sitcom a hit.

ARNETT: Look, we're excited at the potential to actually have people watch the show while it's on the air, as opposed to it having to be a DVD cult hit five years after its last episode.

ULABY: And hopefully the burden of high expectations won't trip up "Running Wilde" as it finds its footing.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

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