By John Carucci
NEW YORK: There’s no stopping Joel McHale this summer.
The 41-year-old actor is busy with his E! reality spoof “The Soup” and preparing for the fifth season of the NBC comedy series “Community,” which starts shooting Aug. 20.
He’s moving outside his comfort zone with a starring role in the upcoming supernatural thriller “Beware the Night.” He plays a New York City police officer in the film, and at the time of the interview, was shooting on location in the Bronx.
McHale calls the role a dream come true, especially because he gets to work with Eric Bana.
He’s also the host of the Klondike Celebrity Challenge, a social media effort. Fans decide the fate of three retro stars, including Alfonso Ribeiro of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and ‘80s pop singer Tiffany, by asking what they would do for a Klondike bar. A third star will be announced Aug. 12.
McHale has taken a “one-at-a-time” approach to his various projects and says E! has been “superflexible.” In a recent interview with The Associated Press, he talked about his various projects.
AP: How would you describe “Beware the Night”?
McHale: Just to be in it, I was so thrilled, and then knowing I got to work with Eric Bana, who is one of my all-time favorites, was just a dream come true. Then you’ve got Olivia Munn in there and Edgar Ramirez is amazing. ... This cast is dynamite, except for myself.
AP: What’s it about?
McHale: It’s kind of a horror film at some points but it’s about these cops in the Bronx ... and it’s a very violent, harsh movie, but with a really good story, and I’m thrilled I got cast in it.
AP: You make fun of the Kardashian family quite a bit on “The Soup.” Their show also airs on E! Are you ever told to tone it down?
McHale: Well, the Kardashians are incredibly savvy and they know if they are being talked about then that’s good. And now Kris (Jenner) has a new talk show. They’ve got every single product. They are a machine and they actually now work very hard at what they’re doing — I’m not sure what it is. ... For a while I know that they weren’t (happy) and the Kardashians were going, ‘Can you stop doing that?’ But when we make fun of Bruce (Jenner,) no one has stopped me from doing that until Bruce comes up and punches me in the face.
AP: Do you like the Kardashians?
McHale: They’re incredibly nice. I’ve never witnessed diva behavior from them, which means they’re pretty easy to work with, which is one of the reasons they continue. So many reality stars are, their egos become so awful and then they just ... peter out.
AP: How many shows do you actually watch for “The Soup”?
McHale: Not as many as you’d think because I almost went insane when we first started when I was watching a lot of television and I got to the point where I was watching TV all day and going home and watching TV and I was going, ‘I’m going to jump through this plate glass window if I have to watch another two hours of ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,’ which was a fine show but after eight hours of television. ... So, we got a bigger staff and they cover, they find things that I didn’t even know existed, like ‘Felt’ on Logo, which you should check it out because they take people’s sex therapy sessions and have puppets act them out. Yeah. They do.
AP: Are you amazed that some of these shows are actually broadcast?
McHale: I’m amazed all the time by what gets broadcast. It goes back to what an old friend told me back in college is that 90 percent of all art is pretty much crap and 10 percent is terrific, and so I think that’s the same for television. I think we are in an era right now of some of the best television ever, and I think there’s also the worst television ever, and I benefit from the worst part.
AP: Are you surprised at the success of “Community”?
McHale: I knew the show was kind of a special kind of different show ... because (creator) Dan Harmon’s brain is like nobody else’s brain. Getting out of your first season is a nutso process as well. But to be in our fifth season, I can’t believe it. And we’ve always had this lousy time slot. We’ve always been up against ‘Big Bang Theory,’ which is a juggernaut. And NFL football and March madness, and survived it. We’re syndicated on Hulu which, whenever I look at the list, we’re doing pretty well. I think the success is that our viewers are so young that they don’t watch the shows at the broadcast time. But they still watch. ... I hope we get to six seasons and a movie.
AP: What is the Klondike Celebrity Challenge?
McHale: People will Facebook or tweet what they would like a celebrity to do for a bar, and it can’t be too crazy because the person suggesting it has to do it themselves. So you can’t say, ‘I would like Alfonso Ribeiro to commit arson.’