By James Hibberd
Updated April 18, 2012 at 10:09 PM EDT


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Community star Joel McHale expressed tentative optimism that NBC’s cult-favorite comedy would get a fourth season, while he attempted to laugh off Chevy Chase’s recent feud with showrunner Dan Harmon.

“There’s four more voice mails coming out that will make it a full series,” McHale told reporters at NBC’s summer press event in Pasadena on Wednesday. “It’s going to be a book on tape. It’s going to be read out loud by Samuel L. Jackson.”

Asked if Chase complaining that Community isn’t funny bothered him, McHale said, “He says that every day. And we say, ‘Well, it’s not Karate Dog,’” and later joked, “I don’t think it was actually him on those voice mails because I don’t think he could figure out voice mail.”

When asked if Chase will return to the show, however, McHale gave a more serious-sounding answer: “He obviously wasn’t very happy. But he loves the cast, my guess is he’ll be back if we’re back…. I’m assuming so if he gets the Bentley that he asked for.”

As for whether the show will be renewed, the event itself was testimony to its extremely strong odds given that Community‘s third season only has a few more weeks left on the air. NBC’s press day had shows like Grimm, The Voice, America’s Got Talent and American Ninja Warrior — all titles that are scheduled for the summer or to return next year. In recent weeks, Chase and Harmon were scheduled to appear on the panel, but NBC says both had conflicts.

McHale said a fourth season shows the characters “coming out of [testing] and moving onto their next chapter of their life.” But it won’t necessarily mark a final season. “There’s graduate school, post-graduate, teaching,” McHale said. “We could slow down time.”

Read more:

Chevy Chase’s angry ‘Community’ rant (and four other vicious voicemails)

Here we go again: Another Chevy Chase ‘Community’ rant leaks — LISTEN

Joel McHale addresses Chevy Chase ‘Community’ conflict on ‘Live! With Kelly’

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Joel McHale and Alison Brie star in this comedy about a community college study group that turns into a surrogate family.
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