Sony Fires Dan Harmon as Community Showrunner – Harmon’s Take

I am not going to pretend to know the real reason (or reasons) why Dan Harmon was fired off Community. I’ve heard all kinds of rumors, of course. But I refuse to repeat tawdry supposition. The one thing I can tell you: It most likely had little or nothing to do with Chevy Chase. In the grand scheme of Hollywood, near-septuagenarian Chevy has about as much power in this town today as Rob Schneider… Maybe not even that.

What is certain: Harmon’s firing has already caused a Geek Shitstorm… And it is only going to get bigger. But before people start sending Paper Fortune Tellers (the contraption used in the Community credit sequence) to NBC or Sony Pictures Television execs telling them to Fuck Off!” in big blue letters on every triangle… You have to remember something: People get fired all the time. Not just in Hollywood. Everywhere.

I’ve been fired twice myself. I’ve infamously quit projects/jobs at least 17 times… Usually because some scumbag lied to me about their true intentions or their real “vision” for a Film/TV show. (My reasoning being: If it quacks like a Duck, walks like a Duck and shits like a fucking Duck… It’s a goddamned Duck.) But I’ve also been hired lots… And, in the end, that’s what matters. As long as I can still pay to keep the lights on and look after the people I care about, I’m satisfied.

Sending nasty notes to the suits involved in this mess will get you nowhere. Picking a trinket to send by the truckload to the Studio Gates– demanding Harmon’s reinstatement– won’t work either. The show has been renewed already. The suits already feel like they’ve given you what you want. Not firing Harmon wasn’t part of their deal with you. You wanted more Community? In their minds, they are giving you more Community.

Harmon’s method of firing, by Hollywood standards, was rather tame. He even notes in his blog post below that he saw it coming days off and had already tasked his assistant to pack up his office.

Most people don’t get that luxury in this town. They either refuse to see the impending reality in front of them or, even worse– believe they’re untouchable/indispensable. I’ve watched fired people literally forced to walk out of buildings– in front of all their still-employed colleagues– surrounded by six security guards and two assistants carrying boxes crammed with their personal office stuff. This, by Hollywood standards, is the ultimate Walk of Shame. I saw another exec dragged out of his office kicking and screaming as a supposed April Fools Day “joke”… Only to have it happen “for reals” to the same guy 10 days later. Don’t tell me that first time was meant as a joke. It was a fucking dry run for the real firing event to come a few days later. That’s the shitty, Machiavellian, immature nature of high-drama Hollywood.

An actor friend of mine was fired off a movie because– in a celebratory victory scene where he was urged to improvise– he had the audacity to hug the film’s star without permission. Another was fired because he didn’t laugh at a star’s off-color comment about a woman’s ass. Both actors went on to be just as famous as the A List actors who fired them… And as they add up their 7 digit stock portfolios, neither gives a rat’s ass about those firings anymore. (Money and popularity do not bring happiness but they sure have a unique way of smoothing over past injustices.) And in a town filled with self-important, immature adults that act like the brattiest children– getting fired is a fact of life.

In the end, you have to remember no one was beheaded here. No one died. Just fired. Big fucking deal.

Yet geeks the world over are whipping themselves into an unbridled fury. And while they do, I suspect the dust will settle on the Community set quickly… And work will begin anew on what may very well be the show’s last 13 episodes. Ever. Or not. It’s a very long shot (longer than winning the lottery) but Community might be just as good or (gasp) even better than it is now.

Some people wear their firings like Badges of Honor. I’m not saying Dan Harmon is doing that. At all. If he’s like me– when he gets fired, he feels like a dog that has just been slapped on the nose: Offended. His blog post below reflects bemusement, but also has a real subtext of anger and offense. In other words, it’s a typical Dan Harmon blog post.

If you declare you’re going to stop watching the show because of this, Community being over is a foregone conclusion. The show can’t afford to lose ONE viewer, let alone thousands. As much as you may despise the suits for firing Harmon, there really are two sides to every story… And we don’t know EITHER of them… Not really. Were you there? Are you Dan Harmon– or his assistant? Were you sitting in the room when someone off-handedly asked, “Why don’t we just fire the fucker?” Of course you weren’t. None of us were.

There’s lots of other worthy people you still admire (the actors and the “unknown” people working behind the scenes, to name a few hundred) that would most probably like the series to continue. They would all like to keep their regular paychecks to support their families– as long as everyone involved is still committed to producing quality TV.

To be clear: I’m not telling you to watch the new season and I’m not telling you not to watch it. I’m just telling you don’t dare come on here and bitch about the new episodes if you’re not watching them. That’s just wrong and hurts a lot of hardworking decent people who don’t deserve your uninformed, biased criticism. (Conversely, if you do watch them and don’t like them, feel free to come on over and bitch about the “good ol’ days” all you want.)

As for the firing of Dan Harmon? Well, that just sucks. But he’ll be OK. If Community thrives, he’s still got his ten percent (see post below). If Community tanks, he’s still got his ten percent and “I told you so” bragging rights. I wish him the best. He knows– just like I know– he’s one of the lucky ones. There are many, many people who never get a chance to present a television show on any network– let alone get fired from one. This won’t be Harmon’s last show. Hell, given his propensity toward honestly in an industry filled with dishonest people– it probably won’t be his last firing either.

Welcome to the club, Dan. Me and thousands of other members admire your ability to cut through the bullshit.

Here’s Harmon’s take, from his very own blog post on his very own blog:

HEY, DID I MISS ANYTHING?

Kids:

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 on Community, with two seasoned fellows that I’m sure are quite nice – actually, I have it on good authority they’re quite nice, because they once created a show and cast my good friend Jeff Davis on it, so how bad can they be.

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.

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.

The same contract also gives me the same salary and title if I spend all day masturbating and playing Prototype 2.  And before you ask yourself what you would do in my situation: buy Prototype 2.  It’s fucking great.

Because Prototype 2 is great, and because nobody called me, and then started hiring people to run the show, I had my assistant start packing up my office days ago.  I’m sorry.  I’m not saying seasons 1, 2 and 3 were my definition of perfect television, I’m just saying that whatever they’re going to do for season 4, they’re aiming to do without my help.  So do not believe anyone that tells you on Monday that I quit or diminished my role so I could spend more time with my loved ones, or that I negotiated and we couldn’t come to an agreement, etc.  It couldn’t be less true because, just to make this clear, literally nobody called me.  Also don’t believe anyone that says I have sex with animals.  And if there’s a photo of me doing it with an animal – I’m not saying one exists, I’m just saying, if one surfaces – it’s a fake.  Look at the shadow.  Why would it be in front of the giraffe if the sun is behind the jeep?

Where was I?  Oh yeah.  I’m not running Community for season 4.  They replaced me.  Them’s the facts.

When I was a kid, sometimes I’d run home to Mommy with a bloody nose and say, “Mom, my friends beat me up,” and my Mom would say “well then they’re not worth having as friends, are they?”  At the time, I figured she was just trying to put a postive spin on having birthed an unpopular pussy.  But this is, after all, the same lady that bought me my first typewriter.  Then later, a Commodore 64.  And later, a 300 baud modem for it.  Through which I met new friends that did like me much, much more.

I’m 39, now.  The friends my Mom warned me about are bigger now, and older, bloodying my nose with old world numbers, and old world tactics, like, oh, I don’t know, sending out press releases to TV Guide at 7pm on a Friday.

But my Commodore 64 is mobile now, like yours, and the modems are invisible, and the internet is the air all around us.  And the good friends, the real friends, are finding each other, and connecting with each other, and my Mom is turning out to be more right than ever.

Ah, shit, I still haven’t called my fucking Mom.

Mom, Happy Mother’s Day.  I got fired.

Yes, Mom.  AGAIN.

[Via Dan Harmon Poops]

This entry was posted in Commentary, Geek Culture, Ian MacMillan, Insideman's Piece of Mind™, Opinion, Television, Television News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Sony Fires Dan Harmon as Community Showrunner – Harmon’s Take

  1. Locusmortis says:

    There is NO chance that Community will be better for Harmon’s firing, none.

    • J. says:

      I am going to have to agree with that.

      If anything I can totally see the show trying too hard to be what the show used to be. It will become a parody of itself… but honestly in the world of Community that would be the perfect way to end the series. Meta till the very end.

      • Insideman says:

        I have to totally agree with that too.

        That’s why I wrote the chances of Community being just as good as it is now without Harmon is “a very long shot (longer than winning the lottery)”…

        Chances of winning the lottery with one ticket is 1 in 25 Million.

        That’s very long odds.

  2. kurumais says:

    im baffled as to why keep the show if you were going to get rid of harmon? do they think in its 4th season with maybe a revamp of some sort it will find a new audience?
    how many shows have been identified so closely with their show runner/creator? its as hard to imagine community without dan harmon as buffy without joss whedon. at least to it is. could it be better ? possible but its highly unlikely. i would even bet a penny on it.

  3. J. says:

    I’m a glass half empty type of guy. I’d be lying if I said I’m not looking forward to the new season so I can rant about how fucking terrible it is.

    This year’s season finale was the perfect place to end the series. It felt like that is what it was intended to do. NBC really are a bunch of fucking idiots. If they had renewed Awake this news wouldn’t have bothered me as much.

  4. Ooh awesome. I typed a long response and it just totally vanished. Fabulous.

  5. dimaman15 says:

    This sucks, because I know that when season 4 starts i’ll just be watching and ACTIVELY LOOKING for the little things (or big things) that point out that it is no longer Community.

    • Insideman says:

      To clarify, I wasn’t typing a love note to Dan Harmon. Jose would be more qualified to do that than me anyway.

      I was detailing how NBC and Sony seemed to want to infer Harmon would “somehow” be involved in the new season– with Dan then clearly stating he was fired. Happens almost every 2 seconds in Hwood and elsewhere. Not always as high profile as this– but it still does.

      I had a friend who held a job for a record 28 minutes one time. Producer on a show was offended because my friend accidentally spilled the guy’s mocha latte on the way to the writer’s room… And it took an extra few minutes to get a replacement.

      • kurumais says:

        dont worry about it inside i got were you were coming from. hollywood is a weird place full of odd nightmare stories. and this show was lucky to come back from hiatus never mind getting a 4th season with the ratings it was pulling.
        but i loved the show and as one writer put it was the most ambitious show on television. thats no small boast . thats got to dan harmon’s vision and passion for the show. it going to be sad to me if thats gone

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