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Harmon exits ‘Community’ as showrunner

Guarascio, Port sign on as new exec producers

Communityshowrunner Dan Harmon is leaving the NBC comedy after three seasons.

David Guarascio and Moses Port, who have an overall deal with producing studio Sony Pictures Television, will become exec producers and showrunners of ”Community,” which received a 13-episode order for the 2012-13 season — along with a move to 8 p.m. Fridays.

The move will come as a shock to the small but diehard fan base of ”Community,” an inventive comedy that has become intrinsically identified with Harmon. But Harmon’s deal for the show was up for renewal after the just-completed third season.

A consulting role for Harmon had been speculated upon, but Harmon nixed that in a wee-hours blog post Saturday.

“If I actually chose to go to the office, I wouldn’t have any power there,” Harmon wrote. “Nobody would have to do anything I said, ever. I would be ‘offering’ thoughts on other people’s scripts, not allowed to rewrite them, not allowed to ask anyone else to rewrite them, not allowed to say whether a single joke was funny or go near the edit bay, etc. It’s … not really the way the previous episodes got done. I was what you might call a … hands-on producer.

“I’m not saying you can’t make a good version of ‘Community’ without me, but I am definitely saying that you can’t make my version of it unless I have the option of saying ‘It has to be like this or I quit’ roughly 8 times a day.”

Harmon also said that Sony did not have any contact with him following the season-four pickup.

Guarascio and Port most recently have been consulting producers on ABC comedy ”Happy Endings” and were developing pilot ”El Jefe” for Fox, which gave it serious consideration before passing. Their previous credits include critically acclaimed ”Aliens in America” for the CW and ”Just Shoot Me” for NBC.

Harmon’s departure is the biggest exec producer shockwave for ”Community,” but not the only one. Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan have moved on to an overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV, while Anthony Russo and Joe Russo have shifted to NBC’s recently ordered ”Animal Practice.” Also Friday, co-executive producer Chris McKenna tweeted that he was departing the show.

Having survived a three-month hiatus in the winter, ”Community” finished its season Thursday with three episodes, including a final one that arguably served as a valedictory for Harmon and the series. NBC’s decision to move the series to Fridays, which mimicked a similar move for ”Chuck” last season, hinted that the program might ride off into the sunset, but the change in producers hints at a desire to revamp the series for a longer run.

The overnight ratings for the show, which drew a 1.3 rating in 18-49 for its Thursday airings, figure to decline on Fridays, but the hope of boosting its syndication stash – Comedy Central acquired off-net rights to “Community” from Sony in March – could make a difference.

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