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Upon wrapping her long-running Chelsea Lately series on E! in late August, the outspoken comic will kick off a multitiered deal that includes a stand-up special, docucomedy specials and the streaming service’s first talk show. The latter, mere speculation until this point, is set to begin in early 2016 and will debut simultaneously in all Netflix territories.
“If I was going to continue working in this industry, I knew I had to do something outside the box to keep myself interested. I wanted to sit with the cool kids at lunch, so I approached Netflix to make sure they were as cool as I thought they were. And when I confirmed my suspicions, like with any other future lover, I made my move,” said Handler in a statement announcing the news Thursday, adding: “I’m more excited than I’ve been in a while, and the team at Netflix is the most forward-thinking, alert group I’ve sat down with in ages. No offense to the Shahs of Sunset.”
The pact begins with an hourlong stand-up special on Oct. 16, which will be based on her sold-out tour Uganda Be Kidding Me Live. She’ll be taping the special in Chicago on June 20 at the Harris Theater. Handler will continue the following year with four new docucomedy specials, which will feature her efforts to gain a better understanding on a variety of subjects, including NASCAR, politics, Silicon Valley and the NBA draft. While the 2016 talk show’s format will be updated, a Handler entry will still include her often unfiltered opinions on topical entertainment and cultural issues, as well as guest interviews.
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“The Internet has disrupted many of the conventions of traditional television, and together with Chelsea Handler, Netflix is looking forward to reimagining the late-night talk show for the on-demand generation, starting with the late-night part,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. “Chelsea has built a huge following on tour, on nightly TV and through her best-selling books, and we can’t wait to introduce her breathtakingly honest and irreverent voice to our global membership.”
The news comes three months after The Hollywood Reporter first reported that Handler was looking to part ways with her cable home of nearly a decade. At that time, her manager Irving Azoff noted that Handler, who spoke openly about her disdain for the reality fare at E!, had multiple suitors. At that time, he suggested Handler’s post-E! act could include either a radio presence or a series at another network or digital service.
Though the terms of her Netflix deal were not disclosed, the company is known to pay top dollar, and it will allow Handler to do a series without the pressure of ratings. (Her E! series, part of a pact that paid her about $9 million a year, garnered roughly 572,000 viewers a night.) Handler will produce each of the Netflix projects with her Borderline Amazing production company partners, Tom Brunelle and Brad Wollack.
For Netflix, this represents a continued push into original programming for its growing global subscriber-base of more than 48 million. In a recent interview with THR, original content vp Cindy Holland was asked about the possibility of late night, to which she noted she wouldn’t shut the door on any kind of experimentation and that her colleagues have no preconceived notions about what will and won’t work on the service.
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