"Community" creator Dan Harmon was fired from his role as showrunner, with the studio, Sony Pictures Television, issuing a press release Friday night noting that comedy veterans David Guarascio and Moses Port had joined as showrunners and executive producers, reports Deadline.com.
According to a blog post from Harmon, he was wasn’t informed by Sony or NBC about the change. "A few hours ago, I landed in Los Angeles, turned on my phone, and confirmed what you already know. Sony Pictures Television is replacing me as showrunner," Harmon wrote on his blog.
"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," he wrote.
Harmon quipped that he might not want to hear from Sony anyway, writing: "’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."
Harmon also took a shot at the official press release version of events. "I do want to correct a couple points of spin, now that I’m free to do so," he wrote. "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."
Harmon offers insights into his relationship with the show even as he jokes about it: "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.
"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."
It’s unlikely Harmon would agree to stay with the show in a diminished role, given the way he was treated, writes Joe Adalian in New York Magazine’s Vulture blog.
Sony and Harmon have had a strained relationship since the show’s first season, according to Adalian. Conflicts have arisen over Sony and NBC’s requests to make the show broader in its appeal, as well as Harmon’s management style, the story says.
"In addition, ‘Community’ has been plagued with numerous writing staff defections over its three-season run," Adalian notes. "According to multiple people familiar with the production of ‘Community’, Harmon’s flaws as a showrunner were at least partially responsible for much of the turnover the past few years," with Harmon reportedly strong on ideas but weak on management.
Guarascio and Port, alums of "Just Shoot Me," have recently focused on development, with nine scripts picked up to pilot during the past decade, including this past season’s "El Jefe," according to Deadline.
NBC recently announced it’s moving “Community” to Fridays to support “Grimm,” as previously reported. The show has had its share of strife in recent weeks, including a public dispute between Harmon and one of the show’s co-stars, Chevy Chase.