*For “Community” fans who think Yvette Nicole Brown left the show because it went from NBC to Yahoo, the actress wants to set the record straight.
For five years, the East Cleveland native worked on “Community” as forthright divorcee Shirley Bennett, but had to let it go for family reasons when the college-based sitcom was picked up for a sixth season by Yahoo! Screen.
Last year, her father was diagnosed with dementia. The actress moved him from Cleveland into her Los Angeles home so that she could take care of him herself, and not have to place him in a home. “Community” had just been cancelled, but the silver lining was that Brown would be able to spend the extra time tending to her dad.
But then “Community” was picked up…and the long hours on the single-camera comedy (which shoots like a movie) would leave little time for her personal responsibilities.
“It’s an 80 hour week, and it’s just not conducive to someone that needs daily care,” Brown explained to the TCA in January. She said “Community” showrunner Dan Harmon and Sony understood her situation and let Brown out of her contract.
Cue the “Odd Couple” theme song.
Neil Simon’s 1965 Broadway play and its 70s sitcom version for ABC gets yet another update – this one for CBS with Matthew Perry as the unraveled Oscar Madison and Thomas Lennon as neat freak Felix Unger.
Shortly after leaving “Community,” Brown, who says she still had a mortgage to pay, was offered the role of Oscar’s assistant Dani. And even better than a new steady paycheck — “The Odd Couple” is a multi-cam comedy.
Multiple camera sitcoms require far fewer hours because you don’t have to re-stage, re-light and shoot each angle separately for a scene. The weekly schedule on a multi-cam is more like a traditional 9 to 5, give or take a few hours. It gives Brown a more predictable schedule to balance with her dad.
“When I got the release from Sony and Dan Harmon, which was a wonderful gift, ‘The Odd Couple’ was like a gift from God that came after,” said Brown.
So again, for those who thought she left “Community” because it went from a network to the Internet, she repeats:
In this “Odd Couple” incarnation – executive produced by Garry Marshall and premiering Thursday, Feb. 19 at 8:30 p.m. – Oscar is a divorced sports radio host living in filth when friend Felix knocks on his door, having been kicked out by his wife. Wendell Pierce co-stars as Oscar’s agent, Teddy; Dave Foley plays his friend Roy.
Take a behind-the-scenes look below: