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The talk show bubble is about to get a little bit more effervescent.
Between broadcast airwaves and cable, there are already about a dozen places on the dial to watch comedians chat with celebrities — and now one more is being added to the glut, with Chelsea Handler launching Netflix’s Chelsea, the world’s first streaming talk show.
How will the 42-year-old comedian cut through the clutter? How will this Handler differ from the sharp-tongued button-pusher who spent seven seasons as host of Chelsea Lately on E! (a network she hasn’t stopped trashing since she left in 2014)?
Handler dropped some hints in this month’s cover story of Fast Company magazine. “It won’t be regimented,” she said. “You’re not going to turn it on and have an opening monologue, a guest and a band. It’ll be completely different.”
Netflix subscribers will find out just how different tonight — or, rather, tomorrow morning, when the show begins streaming three times a week (Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, uploaded at 12:01 a.m.). Until then, some more hints …
• Chuy is history. Handler’s little-person sidekick and comic foil — she once dressed him as Adolf Hitler to celebrate Germany winning the World Cup — probably won’t be making any appearances. Although don’t be surprised if some of Handler’s friends (actress Mary McCormack) and family (her racist dad) take a seat on the sofa.
• There might not be a sofa. In the Fast Company story, Handler describes the set as including a Lazy Susan-type stage that rotates around depending on the segment. “There’ll be a section if I’m interviewing three or four people, the way Dick Cavett sometimes did, and another if I’m interviewing one of the show’s correspondents,” she explained.
• She’ll get high on the air (again). One of the regular features of the show will be taped field segments — mini versions of the Chelsea Does docs she did for Netflix in January. In one, she’ll smoke pot with a personal trainer who believes marijuana helps with workouts. Other segments will include a visit to the home of a polygamist family and with a vocal coach who teaches trans women how to sound more feminine.
• It won’t be all jokes. Topics will veer into a variety of touchy subjects: “Abortion, parenthood, the electoral college,” she promised.
• There will be a live audience. And they’ll be watching the show in the same studio on the Sony lot in Culver City where Spike TV’s Lip Synch Battle once shot (and, 20 years ago, where Cameron Crowe filmed Jerry Maguire).
• It’s all going to be squeezed into 30 minutes an episode, more or less. In the brave new world of streaming TV, nobody is watching the clock all that closely.
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