After months of rumors about what comedian Chelsea Handler would do following the end of her E! show Chelsea Lately, Handler has officially confirmed that she will be partnering with Netflix (a collaboration she previously denied) to create an online and on demand talk show.
In a statement, Handler said:
"If I was going to continue working in this industry, I knew I had to do something outside the box to keep myself interested...I wanted to sit with the cool kids at lunch so I approached Netflix to make sure they were as cool as I thought they were, and when I confirmed my suspicions, like with any other future lover, I made my move."
Netflix is just as excited to have her at their lunch table.
From Brian Stelter at CNN:
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said "the Internet has disrupted many of the conventions of traditional television and together with Chelsea Handler, Netflix is looking forward to reimagining the late night talk show for the on-demand generation, starting with the late night part..."
The title and exact format of the talk show, which will premiere in 2016, has yet to be determined, but based on comments from both Handler and Netflix, it will likely be a sort of Chelsea Lately 2.0 that allows the host's mean wit to explore territory beyond the confines of broadcast/cable TV standards.
It "will feature an updated format that still encompasses Chelsea's unfiltered opinions on topical entertainment and cultural issues, as well as her signature guest interviews," Netflix has stated.
While Handler herself is a polarizing figure, it's hard to argue that her Netflix deal isn't fairly groundbreaking. Handler is currently the only female late night talk show host on television and come August (when Chelsea Lately ends), there will be no women left. While some were hoping that Handler would move to CBS to take over for Craig Ferguson on The Late Late Show, she has instead chosen to leave traditional TV entirely.
While it would be great to see a woman hosting one of the mainstream late night shows, there's also something respectable about saying "fuck you" to spaces that have been less than welcoming and instead deciding to carve out your own — and that's exactly what Netflix is allowing Chelsea Handler to do. The company has worked hard to present itself as a corporate entity that supports/assists its artists' visions and as a home for non traditional series that might not otherwise get made (for example, both HBO and Showtime passed on Orange Is the New Black before it landed at Netflix).
As Netflix's head of original content Cindy Holland recently told the Hollywood Reporter:
We view our job as helping support the creators to fulfill their vision, not ours. We view ourselves as the objective outsider. Sometimes in a writers room the mood will shift a certain way, and we'll start to remind people: "Hey, early on you talked about wanting to explore this dynamic or these characters. Are you still intending to do that?" It's about being supportive and helping to point out things that from the outset the storytellers have expressed a desire to do.
THR also touched on the Chelsea Handler talk show rumors (the interview with Holland was published before the deal was publicly confirmed):
Netflix is rumored to be interested in Chelsea Handler. Is late night a genre you are pursuing?
I don't think any genres are off-limits to us. We have a large subscriber base that consumes a wide variety of content and we don't have any preconceived notions about what will or won't work on the service. We've been very focused on highly serialized hours and half-hours, and that will continue to be true, but I wouldn't close the door on any kind of experimentation.
We'll see how the experiment turns out in 2016.
Image via Getty.