Community is back after a hiatus that had a lot of us fans worried that it would be canceled. The show is as clever and funny as ever, and thankfully it’s finally getting decent ratings. It just might be renewed for a fourth season.
Potential spoilers for Community
We’ve heard that a character is set to be killed off at the end of this season, and a lot of guesses center around lesser players, like Starburns, Leonard or Fat Neil. Well we just might have our answer in this new feud between Chevy Chase and Community creator Dan Harmon. This story is kind of epic, and to be fair to Chevy Chase, it points to Harmon as the responsible party, with Chase just defending himself. Apparently Chase walked off set on the final day of filming for season three, having taken offense at a lack of script. Then Harmon publicly chastised Chase at the season wrap party, giving a speech in which he told Chase to F off (in front of Chase’s wife and kid) and encouraging everyone to say “F you” to Chase. In response, Chase left Harmon an expletive-filled voicemail (audio is here and it’s definitely NSFW,) which Harmon played for his buddies, with someone leaking it online. Here’s Deadline’s explanation of what happened:
The chronology of the events, corroborated to me by multiple sources, involves Chase walking off the set of the show on the last day of shooting last month without filming one of his scenes, which reportedly was to close out the season finale. Then at the wrap party, Harmon got up and gave a “F*#% you, Chevy” speech in front of Chase and his wife and daughter, and encouraged the crew to join him in saying “f#&* you” to the actor. Chase left immediately and later left Harmon a profane-laden voice message, a portion of which found its way to the Web after Harmon played it in front of other people. Click here for audio. (Warning: foul language!) In the voice message, Chase addresses both his storming off the set, which he attributes to not getting the script beforehand, (some say it’s because he didn’t find the scene funny) and the wrap party incident.
People close to the matter told me they weren’t surprised by the feud, noting that Chase already had a reputation of being difficult before signing on for Community. (I hear it was NBC’s former boss Ben Silverman who championed Chase for the project and was instrumental in bringing him on board.) Word is Chase has stormed off the set of the NBC show in the middle of a scene a number of times and has also gotten into arguments with Community executive producers-directors Anthony and Joe Russo. There had been tension between Chase and Harmon, and with both of them described as “passionate” or “volatile,” depending who you talk to, a blowup was “inevitable,” one person said. Ironically, a recorded Chevy Chase phone call played a major role in another feud involving the Saturday Night Live alum, that with shock jock Howard Stern.
Since I posted the story yesterday, several people working on the show have come forward to confirm Chase’s version of the events. One noted that the show indeed was “suffering through a ‘non-script day’” when Chase walked off. Another claimed that most of the cast and crew members who attended the wrap party disapproved of Harmon’s behavior at the bash.
In that voicemail message, Chevy told Harmon to play it for everyone and he did. I love this show and I’m surprised that they’re having such bad infighting. Maybe that’s why they made Chevy’s character such a bumbling racist pain in the a** in the first place – they didn’t like him, they made him do more ridiculous things, and the rift deepened. I’ve only heard one interview with Harmon, on KCRW’s The Business in 2009, and he was outspoken about the issues of working for a major network vs. his previous gig on VH1 with The Sarah Silverman show, but he didn’t sound like a jerk or anything. He did do an interview with Forbes in which he admitted to being stubborn. “I’m tremendously arrogant…. I am absolutely and inherently self-destructive in that I am always making sure I’m doing what I want to do. I’ll cut off my nose to spite my face if I have to prove to myself that I have dignity and integrity.”
Maybe these are two people with big egos whom we’re watching bitch each other out publicly after they inevitably butted heads too many times. I enjoy Chevy’s character Pierce Hawthorne on Community, but I don’t think he makes or breaks the show. They probably wrote him in that way from the moment he gave anyone any grief.
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