Three modestly rated NBC Thursday comedy series got much-needed high-profile exposure at the Academy Awards tonight. Tina Fey of 30 Rock and Maya Rudolph of Up All Night were presenters. But Community co-star Jim Rash did one better, winning an Oscar. Along with director Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon, Rash won the adapted screenplay award for co-writing The Descendants. He showed off his comedic chops by mimicking category presenter Angelina Jolie’s awkward, model-like pose while accepting the award. The timing of Rash’s win couldn’t be better as NBC just announced that MIA Community will return to the schedule on March 15. The network will no doubt use Rash’s Academy Award in its promo campaign for the show’s relaunch. Stuck with low ratings and prolonged midseason hiatus, cult fave Community is facing long odds for renewal. Backstage, Rash quipped that he’s going to use his Oscar as leverage in getting NBC brass to pick up the show for a fourth season. “I’m going to take this into their offices,” he said. “Perhaps this will help with Season 4.” In 1998, Helen Hunt’s Oscar win helped her NBC comedy series Mad About You, which had been declining in the ratings, get a renewal for one more season. It also helped Helen and her co-star Paul Reiser land fat paychecks: $1 million per episode, a $750,000 raise for both. Fourteen years later, the economics of the broadcast business are different as are NBC’s primetime fortunes, and an Oscar is unlikely to deliver salary boosts on a softly-rated show like Community. But it may help it clinch an oh-so-important fourth season renewal for producing studio Sony TV.
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