Upfronts 2012: Joel McHale and Dax Shepard Tease Donald Trump, Diss Justin Bieber and Talk 'Community' and 'Parenthood'
The stars of the returning NBC shows held a spirited discussion with THR before the networks' presentation.
Despite the early hour and dreary weather in New York, Joel McHale was all smiles on Monday, and with good reason: after the roller coaster ride that was the third season of his cult-hit comedy Community, showing up on the red carpet meant that the series would be returning for a fourth year. And given that the show was seemingly written off by NBC when it went on hiatus mid-season, only to be saved by internet activism, he knew just who to thank.
"Community fans I think are a special breed," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "They’re like X-Men. They’re mutants. They’re more evolved than other human beings."
After discussing what he envisioned for his character, charismatic and grudgingly kind ex-lawyer Jeff Winger (on whether he'd graduate, he said, "My friends, and this is nothing to disparage the community colleges, but a lot of my friends took a little more than four years to get through"), McHale was joined by Dax Shepard, his friend and a star of another one of the networks' renewed shows, Parenthood.
As the pair spoke with THR, a few things became clear: they would love to guest on each other's shows (Shepard would want to play a headhunter from a for-profit college that tries to recruit Winger on Community, while McHale sees himself as a murderous gospel recording artist on Parenthood), and they share strong feelings on both Justin Bieber and Donald Trump.
"I saw the documentary [Never Say Never], fell so in love with him from the documentary," Shepard said, recalling his initial feelings about the 18-year old pop star. That led him to volunteering to direct an episode of Punk'd, hoping he'd appear with Bieber, but his luck came up short; while he helmed the episode, there was no Bieber in sight. And that was only the start of his seismic shift in feelings towards the young star.
"Now I hate Bieber because he rented a house behind our house, and now there’s parties nonstop, and now there are paparazzi living everywhere around us," he said.
"This reminds me of the people in Damascus who were being shot at while trying to buy milk," McHale teased, and though he laughed, Shepard added, "it sounds like a trivial concern. But if you heard Bieber fans partying from midnight til four AM every night of the week, it really starts wearing on you. So I’m no longer a Bieber fan."
As for Trump, McHale made a radical charge: while he and Shepard have "the best shoulders on NBC," Trump's shoulders are prominent only because he has copious amounts of shoulder fat.
And if the real estate magnate were to appear on Community? "He'd play Chevy's [Chase] brother. Chevy's humble brother."
Read the entire conversation below:
THR: Congrats on the pickup.
McHale: Thank god, yes, I’m very happy.
THR: When did you find out?
McHale: Oh jeez, I found out on Thursday.
THR: Did you immediately sign on to Twitter and see everyone exploding in excitement?
McHale: Yeah, I mean my account went nuts. It blew my phone up. Thank you everyone who watches the show. Because without our fans – obviously, any show would be off the air – but Community fans I think are a special breed. They’re like X-Men. They’re mutants. They’re more evolved than other human beings.
THR: When you guys went on hiatus this winter, did you expect you’d be standing here?
McHale: No, because I thought I was going to be a paraplegic. I thought I’d still be in the hospital. I’m doing a lot of cliff diving these days.
THR: So you’ve got 13 episodes, and we don’t know if it’s going to be the last season, but what do you want to see happen to Jeff? Graduation? What is your vision for him coming up.
McHale: Well, you know, I’ve always been kind of, when scripts are written, I trust the mind of Dan Harmon and the writers so implicitly that I’m always kind of like, I don’t know where it’s going to go, but I can’t wait for it. So it’s kind of like being in a hot air balloon; it’s going to be hopefully beautiful while you’re there. You know like, right now we’ve been expelled, and everyone’s always going like, ‘what’s going to happen in four years, because you’re gonna graduate?’ My friends, and this is nothing to disparage the community colleges, but a lot of my friends took a little more than four years to get through. Having us stay longer than four years is not a difficult layup for Dan.
THR: You have lost a bunch of top creative people, so do you think you’re going to have more of a say in the creative process? Would you?
McHale: Because I’m not in the writers’ room and I don’t spend the hours that they do writing the show, no. I would never presume to go like, ‘we need to go to Sweden as a cast for this episode, dammit!’
[Donald Trump walks nearby.]
McHale: Look at Trump. Look at the hair. His hair is going to kill him.
THR: It’s more the tan that bothers me, his spray tan.
McHale: Yeah, but his eyes, not tan. It looks like he’s been on the side of a mountain or something.
[Dax Shepard then approaches, joining the conversation]
McHale: Look at this guy. Look at the coat. I don’t even know who that is.
Shepard: Well, Caulfield Preparatory, and I think like Holden Caulfield.
THR: He also got kicked out of school.
McHale: He shot himself.
Shepard: Well, we don’t know that, do we?
McHale: Didn’t he commit suicide?
THR: Maybe in the future he jumps off a building?
Shepard: The Catcher in the Rye. What are you talking about? He didn’t jump off a building.
McHale: Oh, wait, I’m talking about Anne of Green Gables.
Shepard: Oh, Anne of Green Gables. But how’s this going?
McHale: I’ve talked about Parenthood for the past 20 minuets.
Shepard: Oh, I’ve been talking about Community. Let me talk about Community.
THR: [to Shepard] So, your character in Community, how would you like to see his arc go next season?
Shepard: I’d like to see him get a little more action.
Shepard: I think we could sex up the show with just a litany of whoever is hot currently.
McHale: We’re gonna have those two guys from Smash who kissed come on Community and kiss.
Shepard: It’s going to be a three-way kiss, Jersey Shore style.
McHale: Yes, and it’ll be in Italy.
Shepard: Do you wanna come on Parenthood?
McHale: Yes! I would come on in a heartbeat.
Shepard: Okay. I’d come on your show in a heartbeat.
McHale: Dan Harmon, Dax Shepard would like to come on the show, and I’m all for it.
THR: Who would you play?
Shepard: I would play a guy who owns one of the strip mall colleges, I come in and I’m head hunting. I’d come in and try to wrangle you away. You like that? I’d be wining and dining you.
McHale: He’d be like a headhunter for other community colleges… On Parenthood I could play…
Shepard: You’re a new recording artist who has to record at the Luncheonette and you somehow rip us off or something.
McHale: I seem like I’m a really good guy but it turns out it’s dark.
Shepard: It turns out you’re doing some kind of religious-themed album, so our guard is down.
McHale: Like I run a cult? Maybe I’m like, this is going great, we just need one human life, for this to be the greatest selling album of all time.
THR: Put the blood in the recording mix.
McHale: That sounds great, I love it.
Shepard: I’d come in to find you sacrificing.
McHale: And I’d be like ‘Oh oh oh, hey! Whoa!’ I’m putting a knife away, I’m pantomiming.
Shepard: I don’t think there’s any doubt that Joel and I have the nicest shoulders on NBC.
McHale: Yeah, without any doubt.
THR: I don’t know, Trump’s right there, he’s got some shoulders.
McHale: That’s shoulder fat, not shoulder.
Shepard: Wait, Trump is here?
McHale: Right behind you. [Impersonating Trump] I am giving the most fabulous interview to TV Guide, the most fabulous, stupendous thing that has ever happened.
THR: If you had Trump on both your shows, who would he play?
McHale: Oh, he would definitely play Chevy’s brother. Chevy’s humble brother.
Shepard: And likewise he would play Craig T. Nelson’s brother on Parenthood...
Shepard: You know that 30-for-30 sports thing they do?
THR: On Coach?
Shepard: The one on the NFL spinoff league that Trump owned two teams in.
McHale: Not the XFL.
Shepard: No… USFL? Yeah. There’s a 30-for-30 about that. He owned two teams in the USFL and there’s all this footage of him from the 70s and 80s. He was actually good looking.
McHale: Look at his daughter. She’s beautiful.
Shepard: Let’s take a long look at his daughter.
McHale: Didn’t they pay like Marshall Faulk like $1 million in that league or something?
Shepard: Herschel Walker.
McHale: Herschel Walker, yes.
Shepard: He played for him.
McHale: They paid him a ton of dough, and it didn’t work out.
Shepard: Some things you can’t buy your way into success.
McHale: Remember the ABA?
THR: They merged with the NBA.
Shepard: That was a happy ending.
McHale: The ABA used multi-colored balls.
Shepard: White and red.
McHale: I couldn’t tell between the ABA and the Harlem Globe Trotters.
[Peter Krause from Parenthood comes by.]
Krause: I just heard you’re doing Punk’d, it’s scaring us down the line. We’ve got to watch our backs.
Shepard: I already did it, I’m done.
McHale: You did what?
Shepard: I did an episode of Punk’d this year.
McHale: The new one? The Bieber Punk’d?
THR: Did Bieber punk you?
Shepard: No no, I was directing an episode.
McHale: Did Bieber give you notes?
Shepard: Bieber wasn’t around. But it’s funny – I know you’re joking, but I sincerely ended up on that show because of Bieber. Because I saw the documentary, fell so in love with him from the documentary, called Jason Goldberg and said, ‘I heard Bieber is going to be your host on Punk’d, I want to pass him the torch.’ He said awesome, we’ll do that. Then I ended up in an episode by myself, no Bieber.
THR: He showed you up.
Shepard: He didn’t show me up. I just got bamboozled by the brass at Punk’d. I got promised an episode with Bieber. But now I hate Bieber because he rented a house behind our house, and now there’s parties nonstop, and now there are paparazzi living everywhere around us.
McHale: Man, Dax, you guys have problems.
Shepard: We have big, big problems.
McHale: This reminds me of the people in Damascus who were being shot at while trying to buy milk.
Shepard: Yeah, quite similar. On par, for sure.
McHale: Did he really rent behind you?
Shepard: Yeah, it sounds like a trivial concern. But if you heard Bieber fans partying from midnight til four AM every night of the week, it really starts wearing on you. So I’m no longer a Bieber fan.
THR: You would think most of his fans have curfews.
McHale: You must live in a pretty incredible neighborhood to have the Biebs behind you.
Shepard: Yeah, I live in a nice neighborhood.
McHale: I saw your wife at Gelson’s [supermarket], and she lectured me about getting plastic bags.
Shepard: She did. That’s very her.
McHale: Totally lectured me.
Shepard: She was probably carrying around our big, green Costco bags.
McHale: Yeah, and I think I had a whole roasted chicken, and I was like, would you like some? And she said no, I’m a vegetarian, and I’m like, there’s a surprise!
Shepard: Do you live by there?
McHale: I live right above there.
Shepard: What’s your address?
McHale: Canyon. They found that head and hand in the park.
THR: Were you a suspect?
McHale: Look, I got fingered if you know what I mean, I was of interest – while I was being fingered.
Shepard: But never directly implicated.
McHale: But your life is lovely, let me say that.
Shepard: She’s the greatest of all time.
McHale: That run she did on [Late Late Show with Craig] Ferguson was awesome, in Paris.
Shepard: I think she’s been on that show now in the 40s. She’s done on the show like 40-something times.
McHale: It makes me mad at Craig now because I haven’t been on that much.
Shepard: I’ve only been on two or three times.
THR: He’s an elitist?
Shepard: No, he’s a perv. He just likes young, hot girls.
McHale: Whoa. I don’t know what’s pervy about that.
Email: Jordan.Zakarin@THR.com; Twitter: @JordanZakarin