The difference between making Adult Swim’s new animated half hour Rick And Morty, and making NBC’s live-action comedy Community at Sony, is that Adult Swim exec vp Mike Lazzo is “a bona fide genius, especially in the world of network executives,” Dan Harmon said this afternoon at TCA Summer TV Press Tour 2013. Harmon came to the tour today to talk about Rick And Morty, the comedy about a genius inventor grandfather and his less-than-genius grandson that Harmon is doing with creator Justin Roiland. But Harmon is best known for creating and exec producing Community, for being sacked from the show last season because of his behavior, for being brought back to the show for its fifth when the fourth one tanked, for saying that watching the fourth season of Community was like “being held down and watching your family get raped on a beach,” and then issuing a mealy-mouthed apology.
“[Lazzo] has the autonomy and the humility and the mental power to actually take a script, recognize it as what it is, a document, read it and then tell you what his reactions are to it as an individual,” Harmon continued, answering the which-place-is-better question. “He never says ‘I don’t think people are going to like this’. He never branches out into the business of speculating into the biomass for which we are creating this opiate. He never says ‘people are going to react this way’ and he never confuses the script for the final product,” Harmon said. Then he added: “On the NBC side, it’s even better.”
But when asked if, once Community is over, would he ever go back to working for “those kinds of people,” Harmon said that the “constraints” of working in broadcast TV are “the same as iambic pentameter, as haiku – a different way to reach an audience. If [broadcast programs] are gone when I’m 65 I’d never forgive myself for not stepping up to the plate as often as possible…I grew up watching a box in my living room that made my parents happy.” This clearly surprised the crowd, who’d been expecting some version of nuts-to-them. So one critic stepped up and asked him to play the blame game. Was the Community kerfuffle “60-40″ his fault/their fault, or “70-30 or 90-10.” “Everyone who is powerful and controls things and has lots of money – I’m sure they meant no harm and are very good people,” he snarked. That was more like it!