After being yanked from NBC's winter lineup, Community returned this spring to the highest ratings of any NBC comedy, and it's increasingly likely that the quirky sitcom will be renewed for a fourth season. Should Community return, however, it may be without one of its biggest stars. Leaked reports of a nasty feud between Chevy Chase, who plays Pierce, the self-serving elder of the show's study group, and Community's creator Dan Harmon have led to speculation that the former Saturday Night Live star could be making an early exit from the halls of Greendale Community College. Here, a guide to all the drama:
How did this feud start?
According to a report by Deadline's Nellie Andreeva, Chase walked off set on the season's last day of shooting — without filming one of his scenes. Chase claimed he didn't receive the script for the scene, while others say he simply didn't find the scene funny and stormed off. In retaliation, Harmon turned his speech at the show's wrap party into a tirade against Chase. "Fuck you, Chevy," he said, in front of Chase and his wife and daughter, encouraging the cast and crew to join him in a "fuck you" chant.
Wow. Then what happened?
Obviously incensed, Chase bailed immediately, and left an expletive-laden voicemail for Harmon, which was leaked online after Harmon played it at one his live shows, Harmontown. Among the most chaste soundbites: Chase calls Harmon's writing an "abomination" and declares, "You're going to live until about 57 if you're lucky, the way you eat." (Listen to it here.)
And he might quit the show?
Apparently. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Chase suggested that the feud is driving him to leave. "I have creative issues with this show," he said. "If you know me and my humor over the years, you know that this is certainly not my kind of thing. I probably won't be around that much longer, frankly."
Has Chase or Harmon acted like this before?
Oh yes, says Oliver Lyttelton at Indie Wire. Chase is "notoriously prickly to work with." A physical altercation with Bill Murray on Saturday Night Live caused Murray to quip, "Fucking Chevy. Medium talent." And you need look no further than the "direct-to-video paycheck fare" littering Chase's film resume in recent years as proof that he burned many bridges en route to Community. As for Harmon, he was fired from The Sarah Silverman Project, which he co-created, after clashing with Silverman. He's also been known to lash out candidly on Twitter.
So... is Chase leaving?
That Huffington Post interview doesn't bode well, says Lyttelton. Still, things change quickly in show business, and these so-called feuds can often be taken out of context. But Chase leaving might just be for the best, says Halle Kiefer at Best Week Ever. His character "has basically become a grotesque, venomously racist parody of Chase," and wouldn't be missed. Besides, says Margaret Hartmann at Hollywood, while Chase was the biggest draw when Community first premiered, his co-stars have all eclipsed him in celebrity over the past few seasons.