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New show driven by a Chevy

Tue., Oct. 27, 2009

The punch lines are flowing on the set of “Community,” NBC’s freshman sitcom about an oddball collection of community college students.

Yvette Nicole Brown recounts a recent first date that proved less than stellar.

Donald Glover, asked if he had a nickname growing up, shakes his head: “Being a black kid with the name Donald was enough.”

Then there’s Chevy Chase, as droll and deadpan as he was three decades ago delivering the news on “Saturday Night Live” or in films like “Caddyshack” and “Fletch.”

Does “Community” summon memories of his Bard College days in New York?

“College? No,” Chase replies. “If anything, it brings up my prison stint.”

“Community” was inspired by creator Dan Harmon’s experience at Glendale Community College, north of Los Angeles. Enrolling at age 32 to study Spanish with his girlfriend, he found himself drawn into the lives of fellow students.

In the series, that’s the fate of Joel McHale’s cocky Jeff, a would-be lawyer. The 66-year-old Chase, playing a man made wise by experience, was an unexpected bonus, Harmon said.

“I quite literally moved from Milwaukee to Los Angeles for the express purpose of impressing my parents, who were focused on this box in the ’70s that this guy (Chase) was the king of,” Harmon says.

Chase says the closest he ever got to a sitcom “was not turning them on,” and he was perfectly content in semiretirement. But Harmon’s work won him over.

“Speaking with him, you can see that he’s very articulate and thoughtful and confused” – pause for comic effect – “about anything outside of himself. But his writing was so funny.”

The birthday bunch

Actress Nanette Fabray is 89. Actress Ruby Dee is 85. Actor-comedian John Cleese is 70. Country singer Lee Greenwood is 67. Author Fran Lebowitz is 59. Singer Simon LeBon (Duran Duran) is 51. Singer Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots) is 42. Singer Kelly Osbourne is 25.


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