During a keynote conversation at Variety‘s Business Managers Breakfast presented by City National Bank, “Community” and “Rick and Morty” creator Dan Harmon talked at length about the upcoming “Community” movie, sharing that Donald Glover is “down to clown” in the project.
Entertainment business managers gathered at the Maybourne Hotel in Beverly Hills on Thursday morning for the breakfast, which featured conversations with Harmon and Shondaland exec Betsy Beers. Additionally, founding partner John Rigney of Level Four Business Management was honored with the Variety Business Manager Elite Award.
During a conversation with Variety television editor Michael Schneider, Harmon discussed the ongoing development of the upcoming “Community” movie, which at the end of September was officially confirmed at Peacock. Harmon said that the upcoming movie is currently being written, and that he can’t imagine it without series star Donald Glover, who wasn’t included in the cast in the original greenlight announcement.
“For lack of a better word, there was a ball fumbled… [Glover] is down to clown,” Harmon remarked about Glover’s involvement in the movie. “Man, I would not want to think about making [the movie] without Donald.”
Harmon also shared insights about the business side of landing the movie with the right streamer, with final discussions coming down to either Amazon or Peacock. The latter service, which falls under the NBC banner that the show initially premiered on in 2009, expressed sincere passion about marketing the movie as much as possible, which influenced his decision.
“Is it smart as a creative to go with the place that you think is more solvent? That’s not how a creative should think, you’re supposed to go with your passion, and ultimately, that is what we did,” Harmon said. “We can’t control the marketplace, we can’t control Peacock’s future, so we should ignore that, pretend that all things are equal and go with the thing that makes emotional sense.”
Harmon also talked about how important it is for creatives in the entertainment industry to follow their passions and what makes emotional sense for them, as opposed to keying in on the business side of their projects. He remarked how fortunate he has been throughout his career to not have to worry much about the financial side of the shows he created, despite how large of a franchise a series like “Rick and Morty” has become with merchandising, brand collaborations and crossovers.
“Justin [Roiland, co-creator of ‘Rick and Morty’] was very meticulous about that stuff, which, combined with Adult Swim being very passionate about marketing, I’m very fortunate that I never had to pay attention to all of the licensing and marketing. I never had to put a finger on that scale, so I just marvel at it,” Harmon said.
Also during the breakfast, Variety editor-at-large Kate Aurthur sat down with Shondaland executive producer and creative partner Betsy Beers to talk about the smash success of Netflix’s “Bridgerton.” She talked at length about her role at Shondaland — the production banner founded by Shonda Rhimes — where she essentially serves as a “shadow showrunner,” working to problem-solve across different shows. Beers and Rhimes first met in 2002, and they found early success with the long-running medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy.”
“My job is to help articulate the vision for the creator of the show, which involves everything from coming up with and helping form the original idea for the show, to forming a pitch, to going through production then getting through post, driving through publicity, getting it on the air and then keeping it on the air,” Beers said.
Though her role requires her to wear many hats, Beers emphasized the importance of giving a spotlight to individuals working on productions that don’t get the same amount of acclaim that executives like she and Rhimes receive. This idea was the baseline formula behind their recent book “Inside Bridgerton.”
“We are always amazed at what our crews can do and what our people who work on the show accomplish. There are a lot of moving parts throughout,” Beers said. “Shonda always says that we get the credit, the attention and the applause, but a lot of the people you don’t know about are working incredibly hard and are the only ways these shows come about. We thought it would be amazing to do an oral history of the show from the point of view of all the different departments.”
The smash success of “Bridgerton” has spawned successive seasons, with a third and fourth already announced and a spinoff prequel series focused on a young Queen Charlotte in the works.