Dan Harmon responds to his ousting, and we respond to Sony’s bad ‘Community’ decision

By | May 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm | 8 comments | feature slider, News, Opinion | Tags: , ,

Seeing as he hadn’t signed on to produce Community— even after it was announced it had been renewed for a new season, we knew it wasn’t looking good for Dan Harmon. And now it’s official. The creator and executive producer of the Thursday night comedy — which just aired its three-episode season 3 finale on May 17 — has been replaced by David Guarascio and Moses Port at its showrunners for the 13-episode fourth season. And it turns out, despite NBC honcho telling press recently that he was sure Harmon would be involved in the show in some capacity, Sony Pictures Television (who owns Community) didn’t even bother communicating with him about their intentions. Harmon took to his Tumblr to address is ousting:

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.

I do want to correct a couple points of spin, now that I’m free to do so:

The important one is this quote from Bob Greenblatt in which he says he’s sure I’m going to be involved somehow, something like that.  That’s a misquote.  I think he meant to say he’s sure cookies are yummy, because he’s never called me once in the entire duration of his employment at NBC.  He didn’t call me to say he was starting to work there, he didn’t call me to say I was no longer working there and he definitely didn’t call to ask if I was going to be involved.  I’m not saying it’s wrong for him to have bigger fish to fry, I’m just saying, NBC is not a credible source of All News Dan Harmon.

You may have read that I am technically “signed on,” by default, to be an executive consulting something or other – which is a relatively standard protective clause for a creator in my position.  Guys like me can’t actually just be shot and left in a ditch by Skynet, we’re still allowed to have a title on the things we create and “help out,” like, I guess sharpening pencils and stuff.

You can read his full response here.

So, what does this mean? Well, first, it means Harmon will be able to dedicate all of his attention to his new animated show Rick & Morty, which was recently picked up by Adult Swim. Beyond that, for some television shows, Harmon’s firing would mean very little, since many showrunners manage the day-to-day operations from afar. But Harmon was hands on; he was still an active writer on the show and gave a tremendous amount of input on just about every creative aspect of the show’s production. It does mean that Guarascio and Port — who created the not-very-successful Aliens in America, which ran for 18 episodes on CBS from 2007-2008 — will have an uphill battle gaining the trust of the show’s ensemble cast who seem to have loved working with Harmon. “Dan’s the creator of the show, so to lose his voice would be pretty crazy,” Joel McHale, who plays Jeff Winger on Community, told TVLine on Monday. “I pray that it works out well.”

It also likely means Community will take a more mainstream bent. Guarascio and Port’s pedigree is strong, having co-executive produced Just Shoot Me! for 87 episodes and more recently acting as consulting producers on ABC’s Happy Endings. And, although both shows were/are considered edgier network fare — relatively speaking, of course — they are/were nowhere near the fringe of Community‘s hyper insider-y, super smart storylines.

I don’t understand why, especially with a half-assed, half-of-a-season order for its fourth season, Sony felt the need to replace the main artery behind a show that has such a massive cult following, albeit, with crappy television ratings. Bringing Guarascio and Port in is not going to increase the show’s viewership substantially– if at all. What Sony should have done was fully embrace the show’s odd storylines and, more importantly, it’s obsessed, intelligent and totally tech-driven viewership, and strike a deal with Netflix — like Arrested Development — to produce and distribute the show online.

About the Author

Dylan P. Gadino

Dylan is the founder and editor in chief of Laughspin. He launched Punchline Magazine in 2005 (which became Laughspin in the summer of 2011) with childhood friend Bill Bergmann. Dylan lives in northern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. He hopes the Shire is real.

  • Sasd

     who gives a shit, this show is as smart as a bag of camel dicks

    • keremy

      i think the guy who has a bag of camel dicks, and it’s probably a male, is probably a pretty smart dude. he will probably move on to become a serial killer of humans, but is experimenting with camel dicks for now. maybe he is the surrealist serial killer, and probably the creative type. high IQ, but low intelligence. why did you bring this guy into reality? he didn’t exist before you thought of this…wait…how long have you needed a crazy amount of help?

      • Dylan

        they guy with the camel dicks thinks he’s louis c.k. ‘bag of dicks’ was popularized by c.k. but he made it ‘camel’ dicks. AMAZING.

        • Dillon Gadinothankyou

          CAMEL dicks. Perfect. Ever since I saw that Louie standup, I have been trying to popularize “bag of zebra dicks,” with no success.

  • keremy

    really, this move seems personal. harmon must have been difficult to work with? megan ganz wrote some okay stuff. but mckenna said he also is leaving now, which really scares me. along with executive producers neil goldman and garrett donovan. and the russos! this is crazy. i hope the actors leave too, even though they probably are under contract and can’t. but without out those key writers/producers, what’s the point? harmon may be a self-obsessed asshole, but he is a genius and he IS community, and community is important to the…WORLD.

  • http://twitter.com/bayareabutchers BayAreaButchers.com

    There are so many similar stories with television shows since I can remember, infuriatingly predictable.

  • ManfredYon

    For better or worse, can anyone think of another show runner as intrinsically linked to the show in question as Dan Harmon? I know he was creator as well, but….I really can’t. Liz Merriweather maybe, but that may more be a blatant creator. Michael O’Donoghue? David E Kelly, that freak. 

    On the other hand, shows as idiosyncratic as The West Wing or Buffy or Friends all swapped show runners with little ill effect. Steven Moffat was a very specialized writer on Dr Who, but when he took over as showrunner it was still the same show. And Just Shoot Me was caustic and self-knowing like Community, and Aliens in America had the stark sweetness (and the school setting, if it helps) so…how bad could it be? I’d be more worried if they lost Megan Ganz personally. 

    OK, look at it this way: now you get Community, AND another Dan Harmon project. And he’ll get one. He’s waaaay to into this to just play Prototype 2 (although, yes, it is awesome). I know Community struggled in the ratings, but only for it’s prime time slot. Harmon made the successful Sarah Silverman project without a profile, he’ll be offered a shitty little something on cable somewhere at least, surely, a green screen and a puppet, anything. They gave Louie carte blanche, and his show failed. 

    And let’s face it, at his rate Harmon would have killed himself, or the show, before he hit 40. 

    So big smiles everyone!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hunter-Boyette/29717101 Hunter Boyette

       Buffy never switched show runners. Joss Whedon was there all seven seasons.

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