Disgraced former Community show runner Dan Harmon joined fans on reddit for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) - The Outhouse copied and pasted the highlights!
Source: Reddit AMA with Dan Harmon
Dan Harmon was on Reddit today. People asked him questions. He talked some shit about NBC and Chevy Chase. All was right in the world. Here are some highlights:
(In response to a completely unrelated question about how it was decided where members of the study group sat at the table...)
One of the first things Chevy insisted upon was that his character be a lady's man, which made the writers think it would be hilarious for his character to insist he was a lady's man. In the beginning, the thing I knew for sure about Pierce was that he'd be a sometime jealous rival of Winger's and an oft-time "hapless Obi Wan," to quote an insight from Joe Russo.
(In response to the question "Why did we never get to see a Troy and Abed in the Morning web series?")
because network TV doesn't know the internet exists yet.
(Speaking about Chevy Chase walking off the set at the end of season 3...)
He refused to do the "tag" for the Digital Estate Planning episode (the 8 bit video game episode). In the scripted tag, Abed comes to Pierce with the thumb drive he took, and says "Pierce, I've been able to adjust some of the code for your Dad's video game and I've made a version I think you might like better." He puts the thumb drive into a laptop in front of Pierce. We cut to the laptop screen, where we see Pierce's avatar on a front lawn with the giant floating head of Cornelius. Every time Pierce presses the space bar, his avatar throws a baseball to his father's head, which gives him a thousand points and a "great job, son!" Pierce presses the space bar a few times, pauses, then leans over and embraces Abed and we fade to black. When Adam Countee pitched that tag, tears instantly rolled down my cheeks, and in point of fact, my eyes are getting watery describing it to you. It was the most important part of the episode and possibly one of the most important moments of the season. I was very upset to hear that it wasn't shot because someone didn't feel like shooting it, especially since it was literally the last day of shooting, which meant we'd never be able to pick it up. I regret nothing about how upset I got. My job was to care about my show.
The answer I heard from the people on set was that he didn't think it was funny. After he realized how upset I was about it, he said things in voicemails like "there was no script" (untrue) and "I have a weird relationship with the name Cornelius" (dumb, he had no dialogue in the tag). The real answer, I believe, is that he wanted to go home because he was tired. He probably didn't realize he was permanently damaging the episode by doing so because he often walked off set and then we would just pick up his shots later in the week. But this was the final shot of the season. The sets came down after he walked away. So this was the one time in three years that his personality caused unfixable damage to something I really held valuable.
(on whether he would return to the show if asked in a non-showrunner capacity...)
It wouldn't do the show or me any good to be invited back to the show in "any capacity." If they thought I was bad at being in charge, they'd be even more disappointed in my ability to be not-in-charge. I'm a zero-sum personality with very little staff writing experience. I like to create stuff and if people don't like it I like to try to figure out how to make it better but I'm not great at helping other people make their stuff. Nobody wants Dan Harmon prowling the hallways while they're trying to make Community. It would slow everything down and frustrate everyone because people would feel obligated to mince words and be political in their handling of my opinions and blah blah blah. So no.
(on how he feels about the outpouring of support for him after his firing...)
I feel great about the support, from a selfish perspective. I feel bad about it from the fan's perspective because it tears everything we all love to pieces. All of the conflict between writers, networks and studios stems from one simple thing: We all want the audience to keep watching and we all disagree about how to make it happen. So the idea of me getting fired and everyone saying "this is bullshit!" is a double edged sword. It strokes my ego but, contrary to what my detractors might have you believe, it's not my ego that's at stake. I have self-esteem falling out of my butt. What's at stake is the AUDIENCE'S PLEASURE. Now they're displeasured because I'm gone. It's a sandpaper handjob. Coined it.
(on whether he was forced to hire Chevy Chase...)
Sony made us. I'm not saying it was the wrong decision ultimately, but the honest answer to the question is that Pierce was literally the only role for which nobody else was considered after the actor we cast put his hat in the ring. Even McHale had to "test" against two other great guys. The short list of people I wanted to see about playing Pierce: Fred Willard, John Cleese, Patrick Stewart. That's a juicy role, man, there's a LOT of brilliant old dudes out there, but in the end, Sony felt (accurately) that Chase was a household name. And I remember Krasnoff saying to me, "listen, you make the decision on your pilot that gets you a series order. You take these things one step at a time." And there was wisdom there. Vile wisdom, but it's a vile industry. And I think the writers and Chevy ended up creating an unforgettable character.
Head over to reddit where you can see Dan interacting with fans on many more questions. It might not even be too late to ask one yourself, as he mentioned he might come back and try to answer some of the upvoted ones later!