Chelsea Handler Leaving ‘Chelsea Lately’, According to Manager
Can a show survive without you if your name is in the title? Probably not. At least when it’s a talk show centered around your particular brand of raunchy humor and tireless snark.
Chelsea Handler is reportedly leaving Chelsea Lately once her contract with E! expires at the end of the year, which means the end for the late night talk show after eight years on the network. This, according to her manager, Irving Azoff.
“Chelsea intends to leave when her contract expires. She hired me to figure out her life after E! We have at least seven suitors and many ideas,” said Azoff.
He went on to add that such ideas include a radio show and/or another late-night show on a different network or digital service, a la Netflix.
However, E! isn’t really engaging with all the speculation. A spokesperson for the network told The Hollywood Reporter: “Chelsea has nine months left on her contract and E! will not comment on the future of Chelsea Lately at this time.”
Further details on the situation via The Hollywood Reporter:
Handler is said to feel that she is at the top of her game with a new book, Uganda be Kidding Me — her first to sit at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list for more than a week. She is in the midst of a tour of more than 30 markets, “a massive piece of business” that also will include dates overseas, according to Geof Wills, president of Live Nation Comedy. She will shoot her first stand-up special at the Harris Theatre in Chicago in June to air on cable in October.
Handler’s reps at CAA have been setting meetings with companies including Sony Television and Lionsgate as well as FX to discuss her future. The extent of interest in her in those quarters is not clear. “I don’t know if anybody’s going to pay her as much as E!,” says a source at one company that has been contacted.
Handler is said to be making about $9 million a year while delivering average viewership of 572,000 a night — a decline from 839,000 in 2010. Ad revenue also has dipped more than 15 percent in recent years to $134.5 million, according to Kantar Media. But Handler is the lone female late-night host with a proven track record amid a sea of male hosts across broadcast and cable. And Azoff says his research shows Handler’s performance is stronger than those figures suggest. Despite shrinking overall viewership at E!, his numbers show that Chelsea Lately consistently has built on its lead-in and that this year, her show is averaging a 67 percent increase in viewers over that lead-in, the largest build in the show’s eight-year run. His data also shows her audience is more female than the competitors on any network and younger, with the exception of Conan O’Brien on TBS (though the data for NBC’s Tonight Show predates Jimmy Fallon’s stint as host).
Handler hasn’t exactly been timid about voicing her frustration with E! in the past, recently appearing on Howard Stern’s radio show to discuss how badly things have been going, on her end. The comic described the network as “a sad, sad place to live,” going on to add that, “They don’t know what they’re doing. They have no ideas. It’s a failure.”
While Handler made the remarks after apparently having already made up her mind to leave E!, thus curtailing any potential backlash she’d receive from the network, the comments could have a nasty side effect for her future. Her willingness to openly badmouth the network could have other outlets thinking twice about hiring her.
“When you see talent go after a network like that, you think one day it could be me,” says a source.