Community Shake-Up: Dan Harmon Replaced as Showrunner – To 'Broaden' the Show's Appeal?
David Guarascio and Moses Port (Just Shoot Me, Aliens in America) are joining NBC’s Community as exec producers/showrunners, TVLine has confirmed. The duo will replace series creator Dan Harmon, who will now serve as a consulting producer — which, Harmon suggests, is little more than a vanity title.
“You may have read that I am technically ‘signed on,’ by default, to be an executive consulting something or other,” Harmon shared Saturday via his Tumblr page. “However, if I actually chose to go to the office, I wouldn’t have any power. … I would be ‘offering’ thoughts on other people’s scripts, not allowed to rewrite them… not allowed to say whether a single joke was funny or go near the edit bay etc.
“I’m not saying you can’t make a good version of Community without me,” he continued, “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 eight times a day.”
The replacement of Harmon comes on the heels of co-showrunners Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan moving to the Fox comedy Ben & Kate, and Chris McKenna vacating his role as co-exec producer.
Harmon claims that Sony Pictures TV, the studio that makes Community, pulled the trigger on this transition without attempting to extend his most recent, one-year deal. “[T]heir reasons for replacing me are clearly none of my business,” he writes, “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.”
What might those complaints have been? The buzz is that as creatively brilliant and inventive as he may be, Harmon proved to much for SPTV, and those who worked under him, to handle. As one insider told New York Magazine‘s Vulture column, “Dan is a brilliant at ideas, but he’s terrible at [management].”
NBC last week renewed Community for a 13-episode fourth season, but the network banished the comedy to Fridays at 8:30/7:30 after Whitney. That said, the change in showrunners, as TV Guide Magazine reports, is likely designed to “broaden” the distinctively quirky comedy’s appeal and thus hopefully reach a wider audience.
Community leading man Joel McHale had been dreading the possibility of Harmon exiting, telling TVLine. “Dan’s the creator of the show, so to lose his voice would be pretty crazy…. He gave me the role of a lifetime, so it would be a very weird scenario [to continue] without him.
“I pray that it works out well,” McHale added. “That sounds weird and vague, but I really do. I literally am praying.”