12:01pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Dan Harmon Returning as 'Community' Showrunner
Dan Harmon is returning to Greendale.
The creator of NBC's Community is formalizing his deal with producer Sony Pictures Television to return to the series as showrunner, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Writer/EP Chris McKenna, who exited the series in May 2012 after signing a two-year overall deal with Universal Television, is also formalizing his return. Both deals are expected to close in the coming days. SPT would not confirm the deals had closed.
The news of Harmon's return comes after word leaked over Memorial Day weekend that the writer/executive producer was asked to return to Community during a taping of his Harmontown podcast.
Harmon replaces David Guarascio and Moses Port at the helm of the beleaguered comedy. The duo were brought in to oversee season four, which wrapped its run in May on par with the Harmon-led third season. Critics, however, noted that Community had lost the edge it had under the show's creator.
"Yes yes yes! I'm back I'm back I'm back. You can thank @joelmchale," Harmon tweeted early Saturday, prompting co-star Gillian Jacobs to write a nod to a Community season two episode, "Welcome back, @danharmon! E Pluribus Anus!"
Harmon returns to Community following a turbulent history on the show, which included an unflattering voice mail from series co-star Chevy Chase. In the time since, Harmon has been vocal about his firing from Community. "I would have fired me," he told KCRW's The Business in August. "Sony was always so bummed out about the way I wrote and thought, and they always fantasized about doing the show without me."
Harmon acknowledged the Chase brouhaha during his podcast taping, joking that he would return only if the actor -- who exited the show in November -- was brought back to the series as well.
For NBC, Harmon's return helps solidify Community, one of only two veteran comedies the network has for 2013-14. (The series was left off the fall schedule, with a midseason debut once again likely.)
In addition to Community, Harmon has a 10-episode animated series, Rick and Morty, set to join Adult Swim's late-night block in 2014.
McKenna, meanwhile, had a busy development season, selling multiple projects to the broadcast networks. Ultimately, none made the cut to pilot.
Harmon is repped by UTA. McKenna is with UTA and Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof + Fishman.