Greendale Community College has a new pair of headmasters. Just Shoot Me! alums Moses Port and David Guarascio have been tapped to step in and replace Dan Harmon as the new showrunners of NBC's Community. Harmon has been given a consulting producer title, but that doesn't mean he'll be actively involved on the show.
Even though NBC pleased fans by giving Community a 13-episode renewal last week, Harmon hadn't yet struck a deal with producer Sony Pictures TV to return as showrunner next season. That's because Sony had been looking to make a change at the top. Initially, Port and Guarascio (who more recently consulted on Happy Endings) turned the offer down — but Sony came back and sweetened the pot. The duo's credits also include Aliens in America; this season they wrote the Fox pilot El Jefe.
According to insiders, Harmon signed just a one-year deal last year, with no option that would force his return this season. With no new deal on the horizon, Harmon prepared a farewell message to run as a vanity production card during Community's season ender, but the idea was later nixed.
Sony is said to be looking at ways to broaden Community and attempt to extend the show's life on NBC — and it's no secret that studio and network execs have clashed with Harmon in the past. Insiders warn that Harmon is so closely identified with Community that squeezing him completely might alienate the show's small but fiercely loyal fan base. Not to mention most of the show's cast: "Dan's the creator of the show, the voice of the show, so I don't know how that would work without him," says star Joel McHale.
On Sunday, NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said that he expected "Dan's voice to be a part of this show somehow. I'm just not sure if that means him running it day to day or consulting on it." (Harmon himself has said he's not interested in a consulting role.)
The decision to tap outside producers to join the show was also borne out of necessity, as Harmon's key producing partners are all exiting the show. Former exec producers Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan (who signed a deal at 20th Century Fox TV to create new shows) have already been hired to run Fox's Ben and Kate, while coexecutive producer Chris McKenna has set up a deal at Universal TV to develop new shows — and insiders said he wouldn't have taken the showrunner job without Harmon's involvement. The seeds of this week's showdown were planted long before Harmon's public feud with star Chevy Chase, but it likely didn't help. "It's hard to imagine that Dan will be back on the show," one source said earlier this week. "And it's hard to imagine that Dan won't be back on the show."