“Community” star Ken Jeong has landed a role in a new ABC comedy series, which could be a sign that Jeong isn’t confident his NBC series will be sticking around for a fifth season.
Jeong, 43, has reportedly agreed to join the ABC show — a spy-spoof called “Spy,” starring Rob Corddry — to play a secret agent known only as The Examiner. The casting is being widely reported, including here, on the Deadline.com Web site.
Jeong is a Michigan native and the son of South Korean immigrants who plays a character named Senor Ben Chang on “Community.” In the earliest incarnation of the community-college comedy, Chang was a Spanish teacher at the school known as Greendale. He eventually became a student of the college when it became known that he had no qualifications for teaching.
Jeong has also starred in the two “Hangover” movies — both of which became mega-hits. As a result, he’s a pretty high-profile comedic actor these days, and our assumption is that he stands potentially to get a substantial bump up in pay on this new comedy series, if it gets picked up.
Of course, there’s no guaranteeing that. At the moment, “Spy” is just a pilot — one of many under consideration for ABC’s fall slate.
But at the same time, there’s no guarantee that “Community” will be renewed by NBC, which is struggling in the second half of the current seasons because it no longer has its first-half hits “Sunday Night Football” and “The Voice” to bring up its weekly ratings averages. In addition, most of the shows NBC does have are low-rated.
A case in point is “Community,” which this past Thursday fell to a record low in the rating NBC cares about most — viewers 18-49. (Total viewership was 3.08 million — also a lowly number — at 8/7c.)
Although the various stories about Jeong’s casting on “Spy” all suggest that he’s preparing for a future after “Community,” this particular sitcom has somehow evaded cancellation many times before, due mainly to the vocal support it receives on social media by its apparently rabid fan base. That means “Community” could still somehow survive to see a new fall season.
In addition, with this “Spy” gig really only amounting to about a week of isolated sitcom work for Jeong, we suspect he’s not depending too much on “Spy” emerging as a long-term gig that will replace “Community” for him. We suggest that he takes a wait-and-see attitude on that.
Of course, for Ken Jeong, there’s always the movie business. “Hangover 3,” anyone?