Chelsea Handler in Hot Water With Serbians Over Remarks

5:04 PM PST 06/23/2011 by Charlie Amter
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

A Facebook page is calling for a boycott of the E! host after she joked the Balkan country is a “disappointment.”

Chelsea Handler may have forgotten all about a few jokes she tossed out during a taping of her show earlier this week that touched on Amy Winehouse’s botched comeback tour kickoff in Belgrade, but tens of thousands in Serbia have not.

People of all ages in the country appear outraged at her comments, and calls for a boycott of Handler and advertisers of her E! show Chelsea Handler Lately is now up on a Facebook page calling for her to apologize.

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“On June 20, Chelsea Handler and her co-hosts attacked Serbia and the Serbian people on that evening’s program of Chelsea Lately, the Facebook page calling for a boycott begins.

“Along with Chris Franjola, Natasha Leggero, and Greg Proops, Ms. Handler for 3 straight minutes ruthlessly attacked Serbia and its people. The verbal attacks came after a clearly intoxicated Amy Winehouse ‘performed’ in front of 20,000 people in Belgrade. After and during the performance, the people in attendance and state officials criticized Amy Winehouse, who had difficulty singing as a result of what would seem to be heroin usage. At this point, the attacks went from criticizing Amy Winehouse to attacking Serbia and its people,”the missive continues (with 15,000 Facebook “likes” as of Thursday afternoon).

The man behind the page, Filip Filipi, who works with Chicago-based anti-defamation group “28.Jun” which looks out for Serbian interests in the western media, said via phone Thursday that he was “in talks” with Handler’s management team regarding an official apology, thought to be forthcoming.

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“Hopefully it will be today or tomorrow,” he said.

The largest outrage in Belgrade and beyond this week seems reserved for Handler’s remarks, which aired later in the June 20th segment, where she seemed to insinuate, jokingly or not, that the entire country of Serbia was a “disappointment.”

“The worst comment by Ms. Handler came at the conclusion of the assault on the Serbian people. In implying that somehow Serbs should not use Facebook, Ms. Handler read the statement of Serbian Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac who said that the the concert was a shame and a disappointment. At this point, Ms. Handler says that "Guess what? So is your country," meaning that Serbia and its people are a shame and disappointment, as well.”

In addition to the Facebook page, a woman named Jelena Ajdarević has started a change.org petition also in an effort to draw attention to Handler’s remarks, so far with over 7,000 signatures.

A NBC Universal/E! Networks corporate communications representative handling Handler’s show said Thursday they do not have a statement yet. An email sent to Handler’s manager at CAA has yet to be returned.

Thursday afternoon, Handler’s own Facebook page seems to be offline, but it’s not known if that is a result of the thousands of angry Serbians voicing their concerns over the remarks or for other reasons.

At least one of the comics on the show seems to have noticed the bubbling Balkan outrage. Comedian Greg Proops took to Twitter to say he was sorry earlier this week.

“Dear Serbia, they were jokes. Please accept my apology,” he said.

As of Thursday afternoon, Handler has yet to comment on her Twitter account or elsewhere on the controversy.

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