Paging Bill Murray to the set of NBC’s comedy “Community“! Show creator Dan Harmon admitted to Rob Licuria and Chris Beachum that McHale’s character of Jeff Winger was inspired by the role played by Murray in the 1981 film “Stripes.”
“I’ve been a fan of his (Murray’s) since my youngest memories, and I named the character after John Winger,” said Harmon. “Jeff Winger can either become Chevy Chase or Bill Murray. Murray is at his funniest when he is rallying underdogs. Chevy Chase is a consummate soloist who can be on screen with a million people, and he is alone. Both of these guys are comedy legends.”
And is Harmon calling on Murray to reprise the role from the now 30-year-old original film? “It’s astronomically unlikely to happen because I’ve never talked to anybody who knows how to talk to Bill Murray,” replied Harmon. “This would be the greatest thing in television if we could get him to play Jeff Winger’s dad.”
Harmon admits to being disappointed that “Community” did not receive any Emmy Awards nominations for its freshman season. “It didn’t take the wind out of my sails, though. I was bummed out for Joel McHale. Nobody works any harder than the cast of this show. They’re in the hot box with each other for 12 hours a day. They’re incredibly, comedically, bright, acrobatic actors,” he said.
Many other eventual Emmy favorites have had little love from voters for their freshman years, including eventual Best Comedy Series champs “Will & Grace”, “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The Office.” As Harmon admitted, “I have high hopes for some nomination recognition this year. I’ll go ahead and say it because I’m not great at mock humility. At this point, I think we need it really bad.”
He says “Community” has sent out screeners with six episodes he feels deserving of attention: “Cooperative Caligraphy” (set in one room), “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design,” “Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking” (which references Jeff’s missing father), “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons,” “Critical Film Studies” (a tribute to both “Pulp Fiction” and My Dinner with Andre”) and “Paradigms of Human Memory” (a fake clip show).
The series is concluding its second season this month with a sequel of sorts to last year’s “Modern Warfare.” Harmon said, “It’s terrifying for the obvious reason that sequels are doomed to fail, so it’s yet another thing you’re not supposed to be able to do. That’s why we had to do it, because those are the only bets that ever pay off for me.” He added that the two-part finale starts with a highly-stylized tribute to Sergio Leone westerns (“A Fistful of Paintballs”) followed by a “Star Wars” semi-tribute (“For a Few Paintballs More”).