Sad times for Community fans. Creator/executive producer/writer Dan Harmon will no longer serve as the NBC’s sitcom showrunner when it returns for its shortened fourth season in the fall. David Guarascio and Moses Port (Just Shoot Me, Aliens in America) have been tapped to take over Harmon’s vacated positon.
So what happened? Recently Harmon was in the news because of a feud between him and Community star Chevy Chase went viral. To make what may be a long story short… It was reported that Chase stormed off the set during the filming of the final shot of the season. In retaliation Harmon shared a private voicemail from Chase at the show’s wrap party and in it Chase said some pretty nasty things about Harmon and Community itself. I won’t go into full detail here, but if you do some light digging you can find the recording and additional detail surrounding the feud floating on the ‘Net. In any case, the public feud concludes with Chase sending Harmon a second lewd voicemail after finding out that Harmon played his previous message at the wrap party, in front of the actor’s wife and children no less. Though he wouldn’t apoligize directly to Chase, Harmon took to his blog to apologize formally the fans. “That was a dumb, unclassy, inconsiderate move on my part. I’m very sorry it’s reflecting poorly on the show,” he posted.
Following the feud and the apology, things settled down as Community returned from its extended hiatus and wrapped up its third season. At the Upfronts NBC entertainment president Bob Greenblatt addressed the future of the show. Would Chase and/or Harmon be forced to quit the show so things can move forward smoothly in season four? Greenblatt said that he expected ”Dan’s voice to be a part of this show somehow. I’m just not sure if that means him running it day to day or consulting on it.”
Flashforward to near present day. On May 18, one day after the season three finale, news broke that Harmon will not be returning as Community showrunner. Speculation ensued; did Harmon step down from his post or was he forced to quit. In a blog post he admitted that Sony Pictures Television (the studio that owns the show) kicked him out without even consulting him about it. “Why’d Sony want me gone? I can’t answer that because I’ve been in as much contact with them as you have. They literally haven’t called me since the season four pickup, so their reasons for replacing me are clearly none of my business. Community is their property, I only own ten percent of it, and I kind of don’t want to hear what their complaints are because I’m sure it would hurt my feelings even more now that I’d be listening for free.”
NBC says that Harmon will remain attached to Community as a “consulting producer” but the showrunner reveals that the network is technically obliged to holding onto him like this and that this new title ultimately still renders him powerless. He writes: “However, if I actually chose to go to the office, I wouldn’t have any power there. Nobody would have to do anything I said, ever. I would be “offering” thoughts on other people’s scripts, not allowed to rewrite them, not allowed to ask anyone else to rewrite them, not allowed to say whether a single joke was funny or go near the edit bay, etc. It’s….not really the way the previous episodes got done. I was what you might call a….hands on producer. Are my….periods giving this enough….pointedness? I’m not saying you can’t make a good version of Community without me, but I am definitely saying that you can’t make my version of it unless I have the option of saying “it has to be like this or I quit” roughly 8 times a day.” Consulting producer means nothing without creative control.
So Harmon was fired and that is that. Also not returning next season to focus on other projects are executive producers Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan and writer/producer Chris McKenna. Will Community be different next year? Almost certainly. Without Harmon’s voice and knowledge of these characters he created the show will feel a tad off; or maybe it won’t, we’ll have to wait and see. However season four (and beyond) turns out, Community fans will always have Harmon’s hard work that makes up seasons 1-4 to look back on. In a way the season three finale felt very much like a series finale, the closing of a chapter with Dan Harmon’s signature scribbled directly on it.
[Via TV Guide]