As Community prepares to shoot is sixth and possibly final season on Yahoo! Screen, Yvette Nicole Brown, who has played Shirley Bennett since the first season in 2009, has parted ways with the show.
The actress asked to be let out of her contract so she can take care of her ailing father, a request that Sony Pictures Television and executive producers Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna granted. Here's what the actress had to say in a statement to TV Guide
"My dad needs daily care and he needs me. The idea of being away 16 hours a day for five months, I couldn't do it. It was a difficult decision for me to make, but I had to choose my dad."
The actress also praised series creator Dan Harmon for respecting her decision to leave the sitcom.
"(Dan) has been so wonderful about it all. He told me, 'Yvette, I'm praying for your dad.'"
Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna also offered the following joint statement.
"Yvette was an integral part of Community and is irreplaceable. We are sad to see her go and wish her the very best."
Yvette Nicole Brown also offered her thanks to Sony Pictures Television for allowing her to have a recurring role on their upcoming CBS reboot The Odd Couple. That series is a multi-camera program, which has a more manageable schedule than a single-camera show like Community.
"A multi-camera sitcom is a better fit for the life I have now. I can't say enough how much I respect Sony and Dan for how they handled this profound change in my life."
The actress is leaving Community on good terms, which does leave the door open for a guest-starring spot in the future.
"I am totally open to whatever Dan decides. I'm glad it won't be hard for them to explain where she is. She has three kids, a degree and a business. There are a lot of ways to explain her [departure]."
Jonathan Banks, who played Buzz Hickey in Season 5 of Community, is not coming back as well, since he is committed to AMC's Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul. The producers are now casting for two new characters, a woman who is brought in to whip Greendale Community College into shape, and a retired salesman who enrolls in classes to reinvent himself.
Series regulars Joel McHale, Danny Pudi, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs, Ken Jeong and Jim Rash are all set to return, with the writing staff currently working on new episodes. The show has also found a new production home at CBS Studio Center in Studio City, California, after having been displaced from their former home on the Paramount Pictures lot.
Yvette Nicole Brown also revealed that she will always be Community's biggest fan, and she'll continue to live tweet during new episodes.
"I'm still Community's biggest fan and I'll still live Tweet episodes. It's very bittersweet. I can take care of my dad but won't be with my TV family. I don't want the fans to worry; it's going to be fine. Greendale is the heart of the show, not any particular character. Even if characters come and go, the heart of Greendale remains."