In the end, ’twas Yahoo! that raised Community from the dead.
A last-minute reprieve, as NBCUniversal and Sony Pictures Television’s contracts on Dan Harmon and his cast of Greendale Community College characters would expire at the strike of July 1, 2014, the #sixseasons half of the cult comedy’s self-fulfilling prophecy came true. All they needed to find was an online suitor with the cash to pay and the need for a million new set of eyeballs to come clicking their way each week.
That was Yahoo! Screen, which announced a deal late Monday to bankroll and distribute a 13-episode sixth season this fall, with new episodes exclusively online.
“I am very pleased that Community will be returning for its predestined sixth season on Yahoo,” comments Dan Harmon. “I look forward to bringing our beloved NBC sitcom to a larger audience by moving it online. I vow to dominate our new competition. Rest easy, Big Bang Theory. Look out, Bang Bus!”
Yahoo! had found success in recent years evolving original content from the web to TV, spawning Burning Love, the award-winning Bachelor/Bachelorette spoof that found a second home on E!
Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s other big play in the past two years was grabbing the exclusive online rights to archived clips from Saturday Night Live.
This marks the first time the online portal has grabbed hold of a pre-existing network TV series to continue producing new episodes. Netflix showed it could be done last year when it resurrected FOX cast-off and equally cultish favorite Arrested Development. Another online streaming competitor, Hulu — which has been streaming the first five seasons of Community through its deal with co-founding owners NBC — also had been in the negotiating mix during June after NBC cancelled the show. You also can find the first five seasons of Community online at a price on YouTube’s Google Play.
Harmon and Chris McKenna are back onboard as executive producers, along with Russ Krasnoff and Gary Foster.
The Yahoo! announcement also specifically mentions cast members Joel McHale (Jeff Winger), Gillian Jacobs (Britta), Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley), Danny Pudi (Abed), Alison Brie (Annie), Ken Jeong (Ben Chang) and Jim Rash (Dean Pelton).
McHale’s official statement: “‘The reports of our cancellation have been greatly exaggerated.’ —Mark Twain (The other version of this quote has been wrong for years). #SixSeasonsAndaMovie is real. Thank you Sony. Thank you Yahoo. Thank you Dan Harmon. And thank you to the greatest f%$#ing fans in the history of the human race. It’s the internet. We can swear now.”
This news also presumably puts to rest any rumors, whispers and doublespeak regarding McHale’s possible jump into the network late-night TV hosting fray. Which McHale had maintained last week were equally exaggerated.
Universal Television will continue to produce Community along with Krasnoff-Foster Entertainment, Harmonious Claptrap and Sony Pictures Television.
Sony’s brass worked hard to find a new home for the series.
“The fans spoke and we listened. Thanks to Yahoo!, and the amazing team that makes Community great, we’ve avoided the Darkest Timeline yet again and plan to deliver a fantastic season,” said Zack Van Amburg, Sony Pictures TV’s president of programming and production.
And Yahoo!’s executives seemed to indicate they’re in it for more than just this sixth season.
Whether that also includes the #andamovie half of the fan’s hashtag wishes…