Fans of the former NBC comedy “Community” have even fewer reasons to hold their breath for the series-ending movie they’ve been begging for.
During an interview for her new Mike Birbiglia-directed movie “Don’t Think Twice,” actress Gillian Jacobs, who played Britta Perry on “Community,” expressed frustration over a Hollywood machine that doesn’t seem to consider what the public—particularly vocal fans cult hit series—want to watch on TV.
"It's a sobering thing when you're on network television of how antiquated and broken the ratings system is," Jacobs told me. "You do feel like, as loud as they are and as well-organized as they are, sometimes it doesn't feel like it's making any impact because they're not a Nielsen family. It's such an absurd thing that you can't be counted in real time for your viewership, and that executives have jobs where they come up with schedules for nights, but now people just watch it whenever they want to."
Specifically, Jacobs pointed to the social media campaign to save “Community,” which was cancelled by NBC after its fifth season in 2014 before Sony Pictures Television saved the show by selling it to the now-defunct streaming service Yahoo! Screen for a sixth season.
And with every hint of the show's impending demise, fans bombarded the internet with stacks of online petitions and a rallying cry calling for "six seasons and a movie." The show has now reached six seasons, but what about that movie?
“We had this whole ‘six seasons and a movie’ hashtag, and Sony put all this energy into it for our sixth season and created all these fake movie posters for the show and everything,” Jacobs recalled. “And then somebody said something to a high-up executive at the network about it, like ‘I really just hope we get that movie—six seasons and a movie.’ And that person went, ‘Now, what is that?’ We’ve made this noise, tweet every day, we got it trending, we did this, we did this, we did this, and it’s not even echoing through the ranks of your own network?”
She added, “I would take screen shots every time we trended on Twitter early on, just to have as though I was compiling a court case.”
While the fate of “Community” and its movie remains in seemingly perpetual limbo, its stars continue to reap the benefits of their association with the popular series. Joel McHale, Allison Brie, Danny Pudi and Donald Glover are all enjoying healthy TV and movie careers while Ken Jeong launched his own series, “Dr. Ken,” on ABC.
And when casting his movie “Don’t Think Twice,” which chronicles the turmoil within an improv comedy troupe when one of their own lands a gig on an “SNL” doppelganger called “Weekend Live,” Birbiglia turned to “Community” creator Dan Harmon to help choose his leading lady.
"One of my policies on my movies is 'no a-holes,'" Birbiglia said frankly. "I've gotta research everybody to find out that they're not an a-hole before I work with them because I had a few with 'Sleepwalk with Me' and it really put years on my life. So I deep dug on everybody and I got in touch with Dan Harmon to ask about Gillian because we didn't know each other."
Although Jacobs came highly recommended by two other sources, including “Girls” star Lena Dunham, it was Harmon who cinched the deal.
“He said, ‘Gillian Jacobs is going to be the Diane Keaton of your ‘Annie Hall,’ and when that happens, I want credit,” Birbiglia said.
“Don’t Think Twice” is in select theaters now. Click here to check showtimes and order tickets through Fandango.