Jim Rash on the "Community" finale and hosting "The Writers' Room"

Actor Jim Rash attends The Paley Center For Media's PaleyFest 2014 Honoring "Community" at Dolby Theatre on March 26, 2014, in Hollywood, Calif. Valerie Macon/Getty Images

Jim Rash is a man of many hats, and we're not just talking about the ones he wears as the costume-loving Dean Pelton on "Community."

The actor is an accomplished screenwriter -- one who won an Oscar for the film adaptation of "The Descendants" (you might remember him striking the "Angelina Jolie leg" pose while accepting the award), and co-wrote and directed last year's "The Way Way Back." Rash is also the host of Sundance Channel's "The Writers' Room," which returns Friday for a new season of behind-the-scenes looks at hit television series.

This season kicks off with Shonda Rimes, Kerry Washington and other members of the "Scandal" creative team, and continues with "House of Cards," "The Good Wife," "Sons of Anarchy," "Pretty Little Liars" and a panel on "The Walking Dead" and other comic book-to-TV adaptations.

CBS News spoke with Rash about hosting "The Writers' Room," binge-watching television, what a "Community" movie might look like and what's next for the show, which airs its season finale Thursday night on NBC.

CBS News: You're taking viewers behind the curtain on some really fantastic shows for "The Writers' Room."

Jim Rash: I'm a lover of television. I was raised, I feel like, on television, definitely a child of TV, and was always fascinated by storytelling. So as a writer myself, when I started last season and was approached about being allowed to host the conversation, so to speak, that's why I was in, because I'm always curious about how the creative process works, from individuals and a collective being led by one vision of their creator. It speaks to a group of people working hard to do one thing -- and that comes with disagreements, that comes with battling it out - and those are the things I want to talk about.

How do you prep for taping the episodes -- do you watch the shows beforehand?

For the most part, [the producers and Sundance] have chosen shows that I'm already well into, but the other plus is I get introduced to [new] shows. I binge-watch -- not for all of them, "Pretty Little Liars" has got 100 episodes, so there's no way I was gonna find time to pepper in that much -- but for "Sons of Anarchy" and "Scandal," I started from the beginning. Granted, a lot of the conversation is going to be about the very beginning and where we are now, but at the same time there's all this great character stuff that happens over the years, so I just want to feel like I'm part of it.

What's the decision-making process like for choosing the shows that are featured?

Part of it, I think, are shows that are still in production and airing when we were airing, or coming to an end or are just about to premiere. It was nice with "Sons of Anarchy" because they've got one season left, so it's nice to talk about an endgame because I think that's obviously very much in the news -- after "How I Met Your Mother" and other shows that come to an end, there's always a debate and it's always a difficult thing for shows to do and satisfy everybody. I also like that it's a broad spectrum of different types of television models, having a Netflix show with "House of Cards" is good, from cable to network shows like "The Good Wife" and "Scandal."

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From left, Shonda Rhimes, Jim Rash and Kerry Washington in the SundanceTV original series "The Writers' Room."
JC Dhien/Sundance

Would ["Community" showrunner] Dan Harmon ever appear on "The Writers' Room"?

I think he absolutely would! I feel bad because I think after the first season he was like, "Why didn't we do it?" And for this season they'd already booked it but I was like, "Come on, guys! Let's just do an extra one, let's do 'Community.' It'll be fun." And it wasn't like they were fighting me, but maybe I'll get it to happen for season 3.

"Community" finishes its fifth season Thursday with the second half of a two-part episode. When we left off last week, Greendale's future was in the balance. The show hasn't been renewed yet, so its future is up in the air as well. Was that intentional?

I don't know. Last year we sort of had closure, but I think the main thing -- I guess it's sort of satisfying, in a way, but I hope that there's another season. I think it's always nice when a show knows that this is it, so you can plan for that and sort of structure it how you want the world to come to an end. In a perfect world, six seasons and a movie feels exactly right for a show like "Community." It feels like we deserve a movie in the sense that you've got a pivotal character like Abed, who is so driven by movies, that you could have a show that just feeds into that and that sort of epic ending. And with "Veronica Mars" doing something like that, why can't we?

Have you thought at all about what a "Community" movie would look like?

As I recall it, and I might be incorrect, the very first time someone mentioned a movie was our first season and I feel like it came out of Justin Lins' mind because he was directing the first "Paintball" episode. And he was like "Oh man, I'd love to do an action movie with these people." And in my mind, as that was said, I was like, "That's what we need to do." I would love to see, and I'm sure Dan and the writers could come up with a much better pitch than this, but the idea of a community college saving the world. That's all I know.

Dean Pelton's worn some pretty outrageous costumes over the years. Do you have a favorite?

On a creative level I was so impressed by the half-and-half, when I went to the bank and I was wearing half of a dress and half men's clothes, only because when you're reading the script you're like, "Uhh, OK," and then seeing how our costume department was able to figure it out. I always love being dressed as Lady Gaga -- I had a blast in that costume. It was the first Halloween where [Dean Pelton] really exposed his desire [to dress up], because I was in a tux the year before. Very clean-cut.

What can we expect to see in the season finale?

The buried treasure is obviously key, and we're going to find out exactly where that is. I can say that there's certainly another level to the Greendale campus. So we're going to go down, so to speak, underneath the building, which is quite fun and will discover a sort of hidden world. And Chris Elliot's in it, obviously, because his picture was seen in the first episode. So it's exciting. I can only say that we do have sort of a "National Treasure" way to find this buried treasure and save Greendale.

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"Community" airs Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. "The Writers' Room" premieres Friday at 9 p.m. ET on Sundance.

  • Jessica Derschowitz

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