And lo it was declared that now is the time in the Dan Harmon redemption narrative for a magazine feature. Harmon is on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter this week, delving into the story behind the showrunner’s return to Community and his inflammatory statements—and subsequent apology—about the fourth season on Harmontown. It recounts the process of getting Harmon back to the show—Sony and NBC again communicating through his agent, just like when he was fired—and provides more context to why Harmon was let go in the first place. In particular, here are the most salient details about his firing:
Harmon was forced out—a move the studio had considered making earlier—for a collection of reasons, including erratic behavior and an oddball leadership style, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. Many say he regularly showed up hours late to work and on one occasion outright disappeared to San Francisco for a few days surrounding the SF Sketchfest comedy festival. A tug of war between his perfectionist tendencies and his procrastinator nature led to table reads being delayed—and, at least twice, canceled—and periodic all-nighters. (Former staffers tell tales of songs on season three's musical episode being written the weekend before shooting, and the set of the same season's video game episode still being built the morning production was supposed to start.) There was his liquor intake, which was substantial enough for Harmon to label himself a "ninja of alcoholism," and his habit of falling asleep during the workday, which his staff documented on a Tumblr account called Sleepy Harmon. Some of the show's writers insisted they'd depart if Harmon remained for season four.
It also confirms that Sony didn’t reach out to Harmon without prodding from the cast—especially Joel McHale. According to the article, McHale asked Harmon’s permission to talk to the network about returning, and “the determining factor for the studio—and the primary reason NBC agreed—was to appease McHale.” So there you have it: You can most likely thank Joel McHale’s ability to deliver a signature "Winger" speech for getting Dan Harmon back.