Community creator and exec producer Dan Harmon told Deadline tonight at the PaleyFest that there’s still no word about a sixth-season order from NBC, but it’s conceivable the cult comedy could have a future via new VOD models such as Netflix and Hulu should the Peacock not include it as part of its 2014-2015 season. “I think that we’re old reliable, like a Tupperware in the fridge,” Harmon said about NBC’s silence about a renewal. “We’ll find out when the network is the hungriest.” Harmon said he’s heard “whispers from dark corners” about the possibility of Community being resurrected through a streaming format, should NBC completely deep-six the comedy series. The creator gives props to Sony, the studio that fired him after Season 3 then brought him back for Season 5, for recognizing the cult appeal of Community should this occur: “No one is better than Sony when it comes to recognizing a property. If they have something that’s worth anything, that has an opportunity to recoup and profit, it’s Sony.”
He added: “There seems like there’s a space where we could do something; one can go to Hulu or Netflix. It’s a new business model. Should Community continue on a streaming platform, well, that’s an adjustment Harmon will need to make. “Whether [streaming] is the best for Community, I don’t know. It’s a network sitcom. It’s like, ‘Let’s take this sonnet that didn’t work for everyone and turn it into a limerick,” he said.
During the panel, actress Gillian Jacobs (Britta Perry) wore rosy glasses about a potential Season 6 order, exclaiming, “C’mon, it’s happening!” That triggered great cheers in the Dolby Theatre. Harmon, meanwhile, touted the stat that Community beats CBS’ The Big Bang Theory in Live+3 every week. As to whether a Season 6 would include Chevy Chase — still unlikely. In several interviews, Harmon has stated it would take a special situation for Chase, who had creative differences with the show, to come back to the series. The creator defined exactly what that means: “When I say special situation, I mean it’s none of my business. I wasn’t around when he parted with the studios. I’ve heard there were contractual disagreements.” But as a comedian, and creative partner, Harmon has nothing but adoration for Chase, who played ex-tycoon Pierce Hawthorne. “I love Chevy. I think he loves me. I don’t think he’s capable of expressing love in a way that satisfies most people, but we text each other dirty jokes and call each other assholes on a regular basis. I would love to work with him again; he’s a constant singularity of humanity.”
In regards to the Season 5 finale, Harmon said he didn’t shoot it like a series ender. “I’ve always struck a balance between series and season finale, but this year, it would be especially unsatisfying for the fans if the Season 5 finale is the end. It doesn’t end with anyone saying, ‘And we all lived happily ever after.’ ” During the panel, Harmon and executive producer Chris McKenna attributed their reunion this season to the show’s star Joel McHale (Jeff Winger). “As in all these complications, the mediator is always Joel McHale,” said McKenna. “I started getting phone calls from Joel and agents. I texted Dan and said we should talk. So we met at the Formosa Bar.” Cracked Harmon: “I said, ‘Let’s do this as long as Donald Glover is on board’. Then these contracts were lowered from the sky for us to sign, like strings from a UFO, and then we realized Donald Glover was flying away.” Glover, who played Troy Barnes, departed the show after five episodes this season.
Also during the panel, Harmon credited McKenna for grounding the series: “The show wouldn’t exist without him. During the first nine episodes of the show, I was running the show in this Howard Hughes-ian fashion. Chris came on board and liked it. He was a guy who I could trust and who would call me at 9 PM to tell me that he had concerns that the sound mixing was affecting a joke. Chris McKenna – he sides with psychos!”
Toward the end of the evening, a teaser for an upcoming Community animated episode — a parody of ’80s cartoon G.I. Joe — drew applause from the crowd. Also on the PaleyFest panel tonight were castmembers Jim Rash (Dean Pelton), Danny Pudi (Abed Nadir), and Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley Bennett).