Hot for Handler

E! host extends deal, adds development

Chelsea Handler has inked a sweeping new multiyear deal with Comcast Entertainment Group that includes a production deal for the late-night talk show host.

The agreement includes Handler staying at the E! network as executive producer and star of her show "Chelsea Lately" through 2012. Handler also is establishing a new company, Borderline Amazing Prods., which will have a first-look deal with Comcast's suite of cable networks.

"It is a unique pleasure to work with someone as extraordinarily talented, smart and, of course, funny as Chelsea," said Lisa Berger, executive vp original programming and series development at E! " 'Chelsea Lately' is a breakout hit that has significantly grown E!'s late-night audience, particularly among young women."

"Lately" launched in 2007 and has climbed steadily in the ratings. Since moving to 11 p.m. last month, the series has drawn an average of 746,000 total viewers, up 31% in the slot compared with a year ago. The show performs best among women 18-34 and delivers more young viewers in that demo than Jimmy Kimmel, Craig Ferguson and Carson Daly.

Fellow E! talent Ryan Seacrest signed a similar talent-plus- production deal with the company in 2006. With her deal, Handler has the potential to become a larger player in the Comcast universe.

Sources said the contract, packaged by WMA, is worth eight figures and that Handler had suitors from the broadcast nets. She recently appeared in the online version of "In the Motherhood," which ABC picked up to series. (partialdiff)
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