Dan Harmon is going back to school.
The maverick showrunner is close to a deal to return to the helm of NBC’s “Community,” the wildly offbeat sitcom he created about a motley group of students at a community college. His return comes a year after he was ousted by producer Sony Pictures TV amid conflicts on the set and persistently low ratings for the show, which is fortified by a fiercely loyal fan base.
Harmon’s reps have been working out a deal with Sony TV for the past week for him to spearhead the show’s final 13 episodes. Although the deal was not completed as of Saturday afternoon, Harmon confirmed the rumors about his return in a series of oblique tweets on Friday and Saturday. He was finally forced by fan grilling via Twitter to make an unequivocal statement:
— Dan Harmon (@danharmon) June 1, 2013
Deal is expected to include Chris McKenna as co-showrunner with Harmon. McKenna was a pillar of the offbeat sitcom in its first three seasons but exited along with Harmon.
The show’s fourth season was steered by sitcom vets David Guarascio and Moses Port. The renewal went down to the wire last month, but NBC finally opted to give it a farewell sendoff, rather than running the risk of seeing another outlet (such as Netflix) pick up “Community” and capitalize on NBC’s investment.
Harmon has developed his own cult following during the past few years thanks to his unfiltered communications via social media and his “Harmontown” podcast that is even more out-there than “Community.” Bringing him back to the oversee the final installments gives NBC another marketing hook for the show next season.
Harmon set up comedy development projects at Fox and CBS last year but neither made it to the pilot stage.