By Chris Jones
Chelsea Handler wants, in essence, to become the “House of Cards” of late-night television.
“There is no real appointment viewing anymore,” the comedian said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune this week. “Nobody watches anything when it’s on anymore. So I want to do something late-night for myself that does not have anything to do with the networks.”
I drank all that in for a minute.
Handler, who has a best-selling book (a humorous travelogue called “Uganda Be Kidding Me”) to promote, has been “opening up” all over the place about her decision to end her E! network late-night show, “Chelsea Lately,” in August, once her contract is up.
In an “exclusive interview” with London’s Daily Mail, sandwiched between all the other exclusive interviews she has been doing, she blamed having to talk to air-headed celebrities such as Justin Bieber, though in her interview with me, for the record, the antagonist was more the network and what she called its lack of promotional clout.
Still, the Mail slaughterhouse got all the red meat: “I don’t care about Justin Bieber, and I don’t want to talk about him anymore,” Handler told the Mail, which blew up that incendiary line with all the enthusiasm that regular readers would expect, deeming Handler “totally fed up of stars.”
Who isn’t? Those darn stars.
Handler, of course, is an exceedingly smart and ambitious star herself who well understands that her tell-it-like-it-is brand would not easily survive any perception of pandering to network “families.”
But her desire for a Netflix (or Netflix-type) streaming late-night show that you can watch at a time and a place of your own choosing brings up an interesting issue that goes far beyond Handler’s own role in a changed but still white-male-dominated late-night world.