Chelsea Handler Will Host Netflix Late-Night Talk Show, Documentary Series

 @ericbrownzzz
on June 19 2014 12:10 PM
Chelsea Handler
"Chelsea Lately" host Chelsea Handler at the 20th anniversary of the ELLE Women in Hollywood event in Los Angeles. Reuters

Chelsea Handler has signed a deal with Netflix to create a new late-night talk show when her contract with E! expires at the end of the year. Handler’s yet-untitled show is set to premier in 2016.

Handler has hosted her late-night talk show “Chelsea Lately” on E! since 2007, and despite pulling consistent ratings, she's spoken openly about growing tired of the show and how she's looking to move on. Her deal with Netflix, she said, offers her more creative freedom than ever before.

“If I was going to continue working in this industry, I knew I had to do something outside the box to keep myself interested,” Handler said in a statement. “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.”

Handler’s upcoming talk show will become Netflix’s first original unscripted series. The streaming service has experimented with unscripted work in comedian Russell Peters’ four-part backstage mini-documentary “Russell Peters Vs. The World,” but all of Netflix’s ongoing original series have been scripted affairs like “Orange is the New Black” and “Hemlock Grove.”

Under the terms of the deal with Netflix, Handler will also produce four comedic documentaries and an hour-long stand-up special, “Uganda Be Kidding Me,” based on her book and comedy tour of the same name. Handler’s documentary series will explore topics that are traditionally outside of her wheelhouse, including NASCAR Nation and Silicon Valley startup scenes. Handler will produce the late-night show, the stand-up special and the documentary series, with the latter two scheduled to premier before the talk show in 2015.

Netflix executives have touted Handler’s upcoming show as an opportunity to “reimagine” the nightly talk show, which many critics have described as increasingly stale and dominated by white men. Choosing Handler as the face of its late-night program allows Netflix to break free of the CBS-NBC late-night talk show paradigm. This wouldn’t be the first time Netflix used its independence from the traditional cable market to cater to more diverse audiences, particularly with “Orange is the New Black,” an original drama that boasts an ethnically diverse, predominantly female cast.

“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,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement.

Handler’s addition to the Netflix roster will likely go a long way to attract younger viewers, about half of whom subscribe to Netflix already. The audience for “Chelsea Lately” has skewed significantly younger than most current male-hosted, long-running, late-night talk shows, attracting an audience with a median age of 42.8,  compared with “The Late Show with David Letterman’s” median audience age of 58.9, according to an AdAge study. Only “Conan” and the “Daily Show"/"Colbert Report” team attract younger audiences.

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