NBC boss on the future of ‘Community’

Joel McHale and Yvette Nicole Brown star in "Community," which begins its 13-episode fourth season on Feb. 7.

When we spoke with actor Rob Corddry recently, we asked if he’d be popping up again as a former legal pal of Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) on NBC’s “Community.” His response: “Isn’t that show done?” It’s a question a lot of people have been asking, especially given recent developments for the beleaguered comedy with a small but fiercely loyal fan base. First, the show’s creator, Dan Harmon, left last spring in a less-than-amicable split with the network. Then the show was renewed for an abbreviated 13-episode fourth season but was taken off the schedule until recently, with the start date changed to Feb. 7. And then last month, series star Chevy Chase announced he’d be departing at the end of the 13 episodes.

While NBC has moved “Community” back to its original time slot of Thursday at 8 p.m., the future doesn’t necessarily look bright for the comedy. “If it did what it has been doing in the past — because it’s back in that time slot — I’d be happy,” NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt says of the show’s ratings. “Does that automatically mean it gets renewed? You know, it’s hard to be definitive on any front. But if it does significantly worse than it’s been doing, that would be worrisome.”

But shows like “Community” — shot on sets using single cameras — might not be part of NBC’s comedy plans going forward. Fellow single-cam shows “The Office” and “30 Rock” are ending this year, and the network already has two more traditional multi-camera sitcoms, “Whitney” and “Guys with Kids.” In addition, the network is in the process of remaking “Up All Night,” starring Will Arnett and Christina Applegate,” as a multi-cam show.

“I would love to do more multi-cam comedies, and we’re developing a bunch of them,” Greenblatt says. “I believe that we have kind of snuffed out a whole farm team of writers and producers who would normally have grown up on a bunch of multi-cams and then run their own shows the way they did back in the day when ‘Friends’ and ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Mad About You’ and all the great shows were multi-cams. So it’s harder to find great writers who can elevate that form, which is now sort of seen as a little bit of the ugly stepchild. That said, we’re trying to do more of that. It’s one of the reasons why I would love ‘Up All Night’ to work, because it would have three of the classiest actors doing multi-cam, and that would be a good step forward.”


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