Though McHale has gained cult status by virtue of his ability to eviscerate television’s most vapid and venal, he’s keeping his acting dream alive. He recently wrapped work on Steven Soderbergh’s drama The Informant, in which he stars opposite Matt Damon as an FBI agent on the trail of a corporate titan turned bipolar villain. With this role, McHale may very well be on the verge of a career shift that will take him away from goats’ balls, Idol gaffes, and Tyra once and for all. “If I could do both, I’d be pretty happy,” McHale says. But The Soup’s executive producer, K.P. Anderson, sounds unsure of how much longer his latter-day Kinnear will stick around. “I think there’s a lot of different directions he could go in,” he says.

Later, on his way to lunch, McHale stops and does a double take at a billboard looming above Melrose Avenue. AS LONG AS THEY CALL IT “REALITY” TV . . . THERE WILL BE GOOD SOUP is printed beside his larger-than-life mug.

“Ahh, yeah,” he says, then opens his mouth, a wisecrack loaded and ready. But instead of delivering it, he regards his towering likeness and, just for a second, flashes a smile.

CHECK OUT SOME OF MCHALE’S MOST MEMORABLE THE SOUP SEGMENTS:
McHale's sales pitch for the "Brit Kit"
McHale on Oprah’s Va-Jay-Jay
McHale and Senorita Sprinklebuns
McHale's trailer for season 2 of The Hills
McHale and Lindsay Lohan take similar showers