Joel McHale waits for NBC pilot pick-up

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Joel McHale, the wry, snarky host of E!'s The Soup is hoping his new pilot will get a network pick-up.

"It's called Community," he said, "I play a DUI lawyer who defends drunk drivers. He's just a big liar and a cheater, and he gets caught by the State Bar because he never had a college degree.

"They basically suspend his licence and say 'you have to get a college degree in four years or you're banned for life'. So he goes back to school where he cheats again, or tries to cheat."

To be directed by Arrested Development's Russo Brothers, it has a cast that includes John Oliver (from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) and Chevy Chase.

"It's about him realising that his whole life is a big cheat or a big swindle," said McHale. "It's him trying to figure out how to live life in an honest way."

When it comes to network pick-ups, McHale isn't presuming anything.

"We'll know in about 10 days," he said. "It's such a competitive business that you can never count on anything being picked up.

"To get a network show on the air is one thing, but then to last more than 13 episodes is like trying to win the World Cup. It's impossible."

One of the pilots he made that didn't get to air was the American version of The IT Crowd, but McHale is pragmatic about the nature of the business.

"So many pilots get paid each year, including the ones that are bought from England or Australia or wherever, and only a few of them make it. And we were one that didn't. I've done three network pilots now and two have not gotten picked up."

Even the US adaptation of Australian improvisation show Thank God You're Here made it to screen, but didn't survive.

"I was in that pilot episode and it was great fun. With all the actors I was working with it was so much fun but sadly it didn't go anywhere."

Still, as McHale knows too well, history can often look fondly on shows that aren't always television's biggest hits.

"When Monty Python was at its height Benny Hill was still way more popular. Which seems incredible. But the legacy is that Monty Python will be remembered for 500 years and Benny Hill won't."