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“I would have fired me.”
Rather, Harmon appeared on a segment of KCRW’s The Business to voice his ongoing frustration with Sony, the studio that produces his little-watched critical darling, which will move to Fridays this season with new producers, David Guarascio and Moses Port, at the helm.
To hear Harmon tell it, he’s in a more enviable position now that he’s off the show. “All of the networks came a-calling. Everyone in basic cable, especially,” said Harmon of the courting process, with recent reports that he has multicamera projects in the works at both Fox and CBS. “Once you have a three-season show, it really doesn’t matter that there’s some rumor circulated out there by the people who made the strange decision to fire you — of course they’re going to create the idea that we were difficult to work with.”
When pressed, however, Harmon faults himself and his own “self-destructive” behavior for creating this perception that he was “difficult,” one he claims Sony latched onto. He argues that he hurt himself by starting speeches and blog posts with statements about how he isn’t very good at the job. Not that the studio was particularly pleased with his output. “Sony was always so bummed out about the way I wrote and thought, and they always fantasized about doing the show without me,” he told The Business‘ producer Darby Maloney, adding that he recognized that the studio had little choice to do what they did once NBC moved his series to TV’s graveyard.
As Harmon sees it, the latter was the network sending a clear message to those involved with the show: “We’re going to smother it with a pillow very quietly,” he said, noting that the 13-episode order would bring the series to 88 total, which would allow those with an ownership stake to make a little bit of money and be done. NBC’s entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt has since said publicly that he would consider ordering more episodes — or even more seasons — if the series performs, and by moving it from Thursdays to Fridays, it is operating with dramatically lower expectations.
“Sony’s job is to take that shot clock and do whatever they can with it,” Harmon said. “They’re not going to hand the ball to the guy that spent three years losing in the ratings race and not turning a script over until I felt it was finished. If your ratings are high and there’s money being made, you’re allowed to be a perfectionist in television.”
(It’s worth noting that Sony execs have not yet commented on the shakeup; NBC’s Greenblatt was forced to address the situation at the Television Critics Association event late last month, saying: “Every so often it’s time to make a change with a showrunner, and you evaluate the creative and how the show is run and how writing staff works. … Sometimes you want to freshen a show, and we just decided it was time to do that with Community.”)
Although Harmon claimed he “wouldn’t have done a damn thing differently,” he does harbor one regret: “I think I would have made a little bit more of fun the people that I’ll obviously never work with again.”
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