Former WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) morning anchor John Beard is back from a special screening of the fifth season of the offbeat comedy "Arrested Development" held by Netflix in Los Angeles.
But Beard, who stayed in Western New York after ending his run on Channel 2's "Daybreak" four months ago, may not stay here much longer because his work as himself in "A.D." went over so well.
After getting feedback from writers, producers and directors at the screening, Beard is considering returning to LA to possibly act in other series or films.
"I'm leaning more and more about coming back out to LA because I've made a lot of connections recently I think would lead to more work," said Beard. "Not TV news work, but other stuff -- everything from speaking engagements to TV, film. Mostly guest star stuff, cameo stuff, and then go to the beach and wait for a residual check. If I do it, I have to do it pretty soon."
"There is a lot of John Beard equity in this town," he added, noting he is even stopped in grocery stores in LA. "The writers, producers and directors all said, 'look you should do other stuff.' I said, 'I'm not connected. I don't have a manager, an agent or anything' and they all were giving me numbers of people to contact and casting directors.
"I can't do that going back and forth. I have to be out in LA and sit down with people and develop that. I'm not going to be a big actor. I'll just do it for fun. This season of 'Arrested Development' is going to raise visibility in a way that I have to cash in on it."
He said the entire cast was at the screening except for Michael Cera, who is currently on Broadway in a revival of "Lobby Hero."
Beard said people at the screening of the show about the dysfunctional Bluth family loved the three episodes previewed.
"They were very funny and well-received," said Beard. "That crowd is inclined to be receptive but I think any crowd would have been."
The former Channel 2 anchor, who has played an exaggerated version of himself over the run of the series, said he was in three or four times over the three episodes.
The arc of his fictional career has been downward. Last season, he was anchoring a gas station newscast. The joke this season is that Beard is divorced and living in the basement of the TV station that he works at. (In real life, he has never been married.)
"I was in there a fair amount," said Beard, a former LA anchor who has had cameos in "24" and other productions over the years as himself.
"The good thing about playing yourself is nobody can take your job," said Beard. "I love this. It is different than what I've done my whole life."
The fifth season of "A.D.," which Netflix resurrected in 2013, seven years after Fox canceled it, is expected to be its last one. The season will run in two, eight-episode cycles, with the first cycle available on the streaming service on May 29.
"The feeling I got was it has run its course, it can't really sustain another season," said Beard. "The story line has been pretty much exhausted and everybody is happy with the way it went. I think they don't want to go a bridge too far. That's my thinking."
Asked which was harder to leave -- "A.D." or his Channel 2 career, Beard had a quick answer that played to why he left "Daybreak."
"I think I would have to say 'Arrested Development' because I was getting more sleep," said Beard as he laughed. "I love this show. If there were 20 more episodes of 'Arrested Development,' I'd want to be in every one of them because it is different from what I did my whole career.
"Although you work very, very long days, it is so exciting and so different and the people you work with are recognizable people that you've seen in film and on TV. Not that that doesn't happen locally. It is just different.
"If I had done acting my whole life and then started doing TV news, I'd be fascinated by TV news. It is new."
He left "Daybreak" because of the toll it took on his sleeping patterns. He still gets up very early. But he doesn't think it is too late to expand on his second career.
"What I have going for me this whole industry is everybody is out there looking for the best new 70-year-old actor and I think I can be that guy," said Beard, who turns 70 in August.
He laughed at the end of that line, which is as funny as much of the humor in "Arrested Development."