Chelsea Handler Inks First-Look Deal With NBCUniversal

Chelsea Handler - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of NBC

Chelsea Handler is returning to the NBCUniversal fold.

Four years after wrapping her seven-year run on E! series Chelsea Lately, the prolific comedian and TV producer-host has signed a first-look deal with NBCUniversal. Under the multiyear pact, Handler will create and develop scripted and unscripted programming for NBC's Universal Television and its unscripted counterpart, Universal Television Alternative Studio.

"Chelsea's singular voice has long stood out among a crowded TV landscape, and we're excited that she is bringing her unbridled creativity and energy to our studio," Universal Television president Pearlena Igbokwe said Thursday in a statement. "We look forward to the many projects to come with Chelsea's signature flair."

The new pact comes five months after Netflix canceled the Handler-hosted talk show Chelsea following a two-season run. The series, the streaming giant's first talk show, switched from a daily to a weekly format in its second season and simply could not cut through the cluttered late-night landscape. Handler remains in business with Netflix and has an upcoming docuseries exploring the notion of white privilege.

"Chelsea has the rare ability of making you truly think while making you laugh," said Meredith Ahr, president of Universal Television Alternative Studio. "She is bursting with ideas, and we can't wait to tap into the unscripted side of Chelsea's imagination."

In addition to the Netflix docuseries, Handler is also developing the Hulu scripted dramedy Unspeakable, starring Mary McCormack, and the drama I Hate the Internet for TNT. On the unscripted front, Handler previously executive produced E!'s late-night talk show Hello Ross, which ran for two seasons with host Ross Matthews, as well as the Netflix docuseries Chelsea Does, in which she explored various topics, including marriage, technology and racism.

The NBCU deal brings Handler back to the company where she hosted and exec produced E!'s late-night talk show Chelsea Lately, which ran for seven seasons and filmed more than 1,000 episodes. The final installment aired in August 2014. The pact comes six years after NBC adapted her 2008 book Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea as a multicamera comedy with Laura Prepon playing a version of Handler. The series was canceled after one season.

"I've spent most of my life telling personal stories about myself. Whether it's been through comedy or books, everything has been about my life," Handler said. "I'm excited to have this opportunity to work with NBCUniversal and put my focus and energy into telling other people's stories and developing entertaining content all around."

Handler, repped by UTA, Irving Azoff and Craig Jacobson, has written five books as well as a number of stand-up comedy series. As an actress, she has appeared on The Practice and Whitney.