By Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers –
The meteoric rise of Chelsea Handler continues as the life of the “I’ll-say-what-I-want” cable talk-show host gets turned into the new NBC comedy “Are You There, Chelsea?”
Based on Handler’s three books: “Are You There Vodka? It Me, Chelsea,” “My Horizontal Life,” and “Chelsea, Chelsea, Bang, Bang,” the new series stars the comedian, who will portray her very Christian, new-mom, older sister. The part of Chelsea Handler will be played by “That ‘70s Show” graduate Laura Prepon.
Handler says the odd casting is just a matter of her being tired of playing herself.
“It’s fun to just kind of dress shlumpy and have a completely different appearance and have a completely different attitude. It’s nice to play against someone who’s playing me. It’s very antithetical to Chelsea. So it’s kind of a really fun role,” Handler says.
Along with appearing on the show, Handler’s one of the executive producers. This new gig goes along with Handler continuing to host her E! talk show “Chelsea Lately” and appearing on the behind-the-scenes series “After Lately.” That would seem to be a pretty full plate, but Handler was looking for a project that would challenge her.
She’s not worried about adding the double duties for the new TV show because she’s done that with her other TV series. Handler says that she actually prefers the off-camera responsibilities more than being on-screen.
Handler has learned a lot working on the situation comedy because it’s put together differently than her talk show. There’s a lot of prep work before filming begins on “Chelsea Lately,” but once the cameras start rolling the program is done in about 22 minutes.
Situation comedies — which also run about 22 minutes — can take hours to tape because scenes will be shot multiple times and script changes are made until the last minute.
Everything Handler does is linked by her desires to make people laugh.
“I like to laugh. It’s kind of escapism. I like to make people laugh. And I kind of like people just to have to not think about anything,” Handler says. “Being able to kind of give that feeling — in whatever medium it falls under — whether it’s cable or network or stand-up or books or whatever — I just kind of like to leave people feeling whatever they’ve done isn’t nearly as bad as what I’ve done.”
Handler’s always been willing to talk or write about the bad things she’s done. It’s part of the process for her of dealing with the highs and lows she’s experienced in her life and and in show business.
There’s no comedian doing more than her these days, but she says she still has moments when she’s not completely sure that she deserves all the success.
Her comedy is a way of dealing with those darker moments. Even with those nagging concerns, Handler would not change a thing if she could live her live over again.
She says she would “do it all over and do it the same way. Because a lot of good things come from it.”
Good things like multiple TV shows, best-selling books and a new series based on her life.
ARE YOU THERE, CHELSEA?
8:30 p.m. EST Wednesday