Dan Harmon has a message for his ex-boss at NBC: You never wrote, you never called.
Harmon, who was sacked late Friday as the showrunner of NBC's sitcom "Community," wrote on his blog that he didn't learn he'd been fired until he received a message on his cellphone. Earlier in the week, NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt had told reporters, "I expect Dan's voice to be a part of this show [next season]," but Harmon dismissed that as mere spin.
"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," Harmon wrote. "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."
Harmon ridiculed the notion that he would stay on in an advisory role -- which would give him little power in any case, as he bitterly noted. "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."
Two NBC representatives did not return emails seeking comment.
Officially, Harmon was let go by Sony Pictures Television, which produces "Community." But both the studio and the network have butted heads with the opinionated Harmon, who this year was embroiled in an epic spat with Chevy Chase, a member of the show's ensemble cast. The feud included the leak of a profanity-laced voicemail from Chase to Harmon. The actor reportedly was infuriated after Harmon rebuked him publicly for walking off the set.
Harmon will be replaced on the comedy by David Guarascio and Moses Port. In the fall, NBC will move "Community" to Fridays, where it will be paired with "Whitney."
What do you think of Harmon's firing and his reaction to it?
You're probably familiar with the saying "don't bring a knife to a gun fight," but somebody ought to tell that to Joel McHale.
The star of NBC's "Community" paid a visit to "The Tonight Show" on Wednesday to promote the cult comedy's three-episode season finale. After McHale told Jay Leno about a recent opportunity to go feral pig hunting in Hawaii -- he turned it down, if you can believe it -- talk naturally turned to the actor's somewhat unusual hobby: knife collecting.
"I collect illegal knives, and now you know, Los Angeles police," McHale confessed. In particular, he likes jackknives and Bloody Marys, which apparently can kill something other than a hangover. (Badum-bum!)
McHale has a perfectly reasonable explanation for his knife predilection. "If someone breaks in, I would rather have a knife fight than a gun fight, because I would like to turn the last minutes of my life into "West Side Story,' " he joked (we think). "I just figure it's more of a challenge."
Leno asked McHale, who has two small children, where he keeps his cache of weapons. "In the kids’ drawers," he replied. "Because that's the last place people would look."
It wasn't quite the "Community" reunion fans were really hoping for it, but it was nice to see anyway. Series stars Joel McHale and Chevy Chase appeared together as presenters at Comedy Central's Comedy Awards on Saturday.
According to the New York Post, the pair took the stage together and traded a few zingers with each other.
"When I see Chevy and [me] together, I can only think of one thing — teamwork," McHale said. Chase then rested his head on McHale's shoulder. "What an absolute joy it is to work alongside a comic legend. And I know all those pratfalls are because of an inoperable tumor."
Chase responded that McHale was "a brilliant actor who has a horrible eating disorder."
While it certainly appears there is peace between the two biggest stars on "Community," there's no word on the status of Chase's relationship to series creator Dan Harmon. Last month, Chase and Harmon made headlines when a series of voicemails Chase left for the writer were made public. They included Chase's complaints about the lack of good material on the show and the behavior of Harmon at the show's third season wrap party, during which Harmon reportedly led the crowd in a round of cursing out Chase in front of his wife and daughter.
Though tempers flared between Chase and Harmon, McHale joked about the incident with reporters in mid-April, saying, "The update is, there are four more voicemails coming out so that will make it a whole series. It will be a book on tape."
He also said he expected Chase would probably return to the series if it got picked up for a fourth season.
The Comedy Awards will air May 6. The complete list of winners:
This post has been corrected. Please see the note below.
“Community” star Joel McHale weighed in Wednesday on the colorful Chevy Chase voicemails that have made the rounds in recent weeks -- and naturally, he offered a bit of humor.
“The update is, there are four more voicemails coming out so that will make it a whole series,” McHale said Wednesday during the “Community” panel at NBC’s press day in Pasadena. “It will be a book on tape.”
Costar Yvette Nicole Brown, who plays Shirley, added: “It will be read out loud by Samuel L. Jackson.”
Getting more serious, McHale said Chase obviously wasn’t happy when he left the voicemails for series creator Dan Harmon -- in one, Chase referred to the NBC comedy as a "mediocre [insert bad word] sitcom" -- but was quick to note that he’s certain Chase loves the cast. Asked whether he thinks Chase will return in the role of Pierce should the comedy get a fourth season, McHale seemed optimistic.
“My guess is he will be back. Let’s get the pickup and we’ll see what happens.”
[For the record, 1:54 p.m. April 19: An earlier version of this post referred to Yvette Nicole Brown as Nicole Yvette Brown.]
Chevy Chase's name is mentioned nowhere in the blog post that appeared Tuesday on Dan Harmon's website, but that's exactly who the "Community" creator was talking about when he apologized to fans about "the giant fart with my name on it that you've been inhaling."
Harmon has broken his silence — kinda — regarding the controversy between himself and "Community" star Chase, which broke wide when Harmon played a voicemail from the star at this Harmontown staged show, held in the back of the Meltdown comic book store in Hollywood.
According to the excerpts from the show that have been released online, Harmon was telling his audience (around 150 people according to the writer) that Chase must have been drinking when he left the angry voicemail message in which he threatened to "kick [Harmon's] teeth out."
Nowhere in the blog post does Harmon recount his side of what happened on set or at the Season 3 wrap party, where the writer reportedly led the cast and crew in a round of publicly swearing at Chase, who was there with his wife and daughter.
What he does apologize for is jeopardizing the show that he says fans have worked so hard to keep on the air. And for playing the voicemail at his show without Chase's permission.
"I made the horrible, childish, self-obsessed, unaware, naive and unprofessional decision to play someone’s voicemail to me," he wrote. "He didn’t intend for 150 people to listen and giggle at it, and I didn’t intend for millions of people to read angry reports about it. I was doing what I always do, and always get in trouble for doing, and always pay a steep price for doing. I was thinking about myself and I was thinking about making people laugh. I was airing my dirty laundry for a chuckle."
Harmon says he'll get scolded for writing the blog post and mentions that he's working to edit the final episodes of "Community's" third season.
NBC has not yet picked up "Community" for a fourth season, something very much on Harmon's mind while writing the post. "I will always do everything I can to make sure we get our six seasons and a movie," he writes.
TV executives and creatives are constantly searching for ways to better engage audiences through social media -- the current advertising and marketing buzz phrase. But according to the results of a new survey conducted by TVGuide.com and the Social TV Summit, the best way to get people socially engaged online about a show is to threaten cancellation.
The results show that 76% of TV fans surveyed in March said their main reason for participating in social TV activity was to "keep my favorites on the air."
The definition of "social TV activity" included posting status updates and making comments on message boards or forums. The number of people who said saving their shows was their primary reason for posting jumped 10 percentage points, up from 66%, last year.
In recent years, the power of social media is seen in the decisions of TV executives scrambling to find better ways to connect to the audience. The most recent example would be NBC's "Community," which went on an unexpected hiatus for three months earlier this year, causing fans to worry that the acclaimed but low-rated show was about to get the boot.
After three months of social media drumbeating, along with a dedicated fan base encouraging everyone to watch the show, when the series returned on March 15, the new episode boasted the highest ratings of the season.
Other findings from the survey show that of fans who do participate in social activity surrounding their favorite shows, 95% did so after the episode had aired, 53% did so before the show and 40% did so during the show (this was up from 33% last year).
Additionally, 62% of those surveyed said they planned to participate in social activity during the Super Bowl, while 58% actually followed through. 57% planned to participate during the Grammys and the Oscars, but a whopping 80% actually did it.
But TV fans shouldn't fret: The Super Bowl, Grammys and Oscars are in no danger of cancellation.
It's still an unanswered question whether or not NBC's "Community" will be back for a fourth season. But as of this week, it's an even bigger unanswered question whether Chevy Chase will be back on the show even if it does return.
Based on Chase's feelings about show creator Dan Harmon in a voicemail posted on various websites last week, it's apparent that there's not a lot of hugs going around.
On the voicemail, posted on TMZ, Chase lets loose with a string of not-safe-for-NBC language describing his talent and his script as "an abomination, and your writing is getting worse and worse." (That's the part that's printable. The rest is available for listen at TMZ, though beware foul language.)
According to reports, the phone call stemmed from an incident at the show's third season wrap party in which Harmon reportedly dressed Chase down in front of the cast, crew and the actor's wife and daughter.
"I don't get talked to like that in front of anybody, certainly not in front of my wife and daughter," Chase said.
Chase has had more than his share of feuds in the course of his career. There's all the not-so-nice things pretty much anyone associated with "Saturday Night Live" has had to say about him over the years. And there's the infamous Chevy Chase roast that's notable for being one of the meanest events in that institution's long history.
But Harmon himself isn't a stranger to behind-the-scenes conflict. As the writer told Marc Maron on his podcast last year, he left "The Sarah Silverman Program" before it ever aired over conflicts with the show's star.
The writer spent much time dealing with fans on Twitter taking him to task for his reported wrap party behavior.
David Fischer wrote, "Nothing warrants what you did to Chevy in front of his wife and daughter." To which Harmon responded, "Very brave and sensitive of you! Absolutely ingenious topic to pretend to know anything about, with just the right audience."
The voicemail was apparently played for a public audience, as the recording picks up the sounds of laughter at Chase's fiercer comments.
Things had been looking up for the comedy series, which has long struggled with low ratings. It returned in March to the highest ratings of the third season after an intense campaign by fans to keep the show going.
Gillian Jacobs, who plays unstable do-gooder Britta Perry on NBC's "Community," will take part in a live Web chat hosted by Show Tracker at 11 a.m. PST on Thursday, March 22.
How long before we get a Twitter-trending topic out of that?
The NBC cult favorite made a notable return last week after a winter hiatus, spawning Twitter trending topics ("Annies boobs", "Jim Belushi," "InspectorSpacetime" and "Troy and Abed") and improved ratings with a 2.2/7 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 demographic compared to the 1.6 rating it averaged earlier in the season -- and 4.9 million viewers overall.
Naturally, the starlet is glad the "Community" fans didn't pull a Britta when the show returned and wants to give her thanks to each and every one of you via this live chat. And before then, she's offered this video clip from Thursday's episode in which she's dressed like Michael Jackson and slaps Joel McHale and ... well, how can we even move past that? Just watch.
And for those of you who are forgetful, remember to sign up for a reminder for Thursday's chat in the box below the clip.
“It’s great to be back and I just pray our fans show up with us tonight,” said Yvette Nicole Brown, who plays Shirley "Foosball queen" Bennett.
The show, which centers on a group of misfit students who form a study group at a quirky community college, has struggled to bring in big numbers for NBC. With its core audience more keen on DVR viewing to speed through commercials or watching things online, viewership hovers at a low 4 million viewers, according to the Nielsen measurement system so heavily relied on by networks.
“The message to everyone — to networks, I think — is that we have to reinvent ourselves,” said Rash, who hasn’t let his Oscar win (he won in the screenwriting category for “The Descendants”) go to his bald head. “In a perfect world, fans would do what I did when I would have to watch 'Seinfeld' and I couldn’t get my VCR to record it. I would have to sit there and wait and watch it live. Guys, pretend we’re ‘Seinfeld’!”
After an extended absence from TV screens, "Community," NBC's beloved but chronically low-rated comedy series, returns March 15 to finish its third season. To drum up the biggest possible audience, NBC is releasing three animated webisodes of "Community" featuring the voices of the show's cast.
The episodes, titled "Abed's Master Key" Parts 1, 2 and 3, will debut online Wednesday, a week before the return of the (mostly) live action series to NBC.
The episodes will run about two minutes apiece and will follow the students of Greendale Community College as they struggle with the responsiblity of great power when Abed is given Greendale's Master Key and abuses that power to help his friends.
"The 'Community' actors and team were eager to lend their voices and support to an effort intended to engage their loyal fan base that has rabidly kept the show thriving via flash mobs, fan art, viral videos, dedicated fan sites and on Facebook and Twitter," said Sony Pictures Television exec Chris Van Amburg.
It's no wonder the cast is so eager. After the series' Christmas episode aired on Dec. 8, the show went on an extended hiatus with no clear idea of when it would be back on the NBC schedule. Most of the time, it's a sign that a show's cancellation is close at hand.
But the series' loyal fanbase can only hope that these animated webisodes are part of a renewed effort on the part of NBC to drum up interest in "Community." It's not the first time the show has gone animated, its first Christmas episode, "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" aired entirely in stop motion animation. A portion of another episode was done in the style of Japanese anime.
The webisodes will be available on Hulu and on NBC.com.
The addition will reshuffle the Thursday lineup with "30 Rock" airing after "Community," followed by "The Office" and freshman series "Up All Night." 'Parks and Recreation" will return to its 9:30 p.m. slot on April 19 after "Up All Night" finishes its season in the time period.
NBC also announced the premieres of new Wednesday comedies: "Bent," a romantic comedy starring Amanda Peet, will debut March 21, with friend-fest "Best Friends Forever" and hidden-camera series "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" making their bow April 4. Wednesday nights will also get restructuring with "Rock Center With Brian Williams" once again moving, this time one hour later on Wednesdays to 10 p.m. starting March 7. And then it will, uh, move back to 9 p.m. on April 11 -- (Still with us?) -- as "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" returns with new episodes at 10 p.m.
TV series have gone into overdrive with star cameos in recent years, particularly during ratings sweeps periods. Here are some of our favorite guest appearances of 2011:
Matt Dillon on "Modern Family": Bringing back classic TV actors to play parents on contemporary sitcoms has become something of an art, and "Modern Family" nailed it when the series cast former "Cheers" star Shelley Long as DeDe, Claire's and Mitchell's mom. Even better, DeDe arrived with Matt Dillon as Claire's creepy ex-boyfriend, whose visit caused havoc during little Lily's princess-themed birthday party. He's not exactly competition for Phil, though. “The truth is, I am rich," Dillon boasts. "But not with money. I’ve got my abs, I’ve got my hair, and I’ve got a super sweet job ridin’ that limo outside.”
Steve Buscemi on "Portlandia": The sketches on IFC's cult comedy may be built around the talent and charm of its two cult stars, musician Carrie Brownstein and "SNL" star Fred Armisen, but the series quickly proved that it can throw in a low-key guest star when it cast Kyle McLachlan (who did his time as a northwestern character in "Twin Peaks") in the role of the whimsical faux-mayor of Portland. Even funnier is the use of Steve Buscemi, dropping his "Boardwalk Empire" period garb to play a regular guy who foolishly attempts to use the bathroom in the local feminist bookstore, Women & Women First. Word is that Season 2 will feature even more cameos, from the likes of Eddie Vedder, Kristen Wiig, the Smiths' Johnny Marr and several "Battlestar Galactica" cast members.
Parker Posey on "Parks and Recreation": If you've ever wondered why Parker Posey doesn't have a quirky yet sweet NBC comedy of her own, the actress' hilariously snooty appearance as Amy Poehler's best-friend-turned-archnemesis Lindsay Carlisle Shay probably soothed the pain slightly.
Honorable mention: Posey gets extra points for her sharp turn on "The Good Wife" as Alan Cumming's ex, a presidential campaign worker who offers to do him a favor — in exchange for something she needs, of course.
Condoleeza Rice on "30 Rock": Jack Donaghy has had plenty of famous lady friends (played by Edie Falco, Isabella Rossellini, Salma Hayek, Julianne Moore), but the former secretary of state is the most unlikely. Rice was game to play silly, defending her love of "Mars Attacks!" and agreeing to help rescue Jack's wife from the clutches of Kim Jong Il.
Which brings us to honorable mention Margaret Cho, who impersonated that now-deceased North Korean dictator on that very same "30 Rock" episode.
Michael J. Fox on "Curb Your Enthusiasm": Larry David knows how to put a guest star to work. Past seasons have featured stars such as Ben Stiller and Jerry Seinfeld, and this season Ricky Gervais, Rosie O'Donnell, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and ballplayer Bill Buckner showed up to great effect. But Fox closed the season with a self-deprecating wink, leaving Larry convinced that the actor's shaky behavior isn't related to his Parkinson's disease — it's just rude.
Sarah Silverman on "Bored to Death": Silverman plays it straight as a rather unorthodox "friendship therapist" trying to help Jonathan (Jason Schwartzman) and his mentor George (Ted Danson) mend their relationship. By massaging her feet.
Josh Holloway on "Community": No list of clever and wacky cameos would be complete without "Community," which brings referential comedy to a new level.This fall featured an amusing appearance by Luis Guzman as a graduate of the community college returned to make a promotional video for the school, but the Season 2 finale wins the prize by bringing in Josh Holloway — a.k.a. Sawyer, lost to us since "Lost" — who swaggers in like a gunslinger in a spaghetti western. Sure, the guns are loaded with paintballs, but still, he darkens Greendale's halls with hints of a giant conspiracy all around them. “Sweetie, this thing is so much bigger than you can imagine," he mutters, before dashing out to catch a Coldplay concert.
What great guest appearances did I miss? Let me know below in the comments.