Chelsea Handler and E! Brace for Contract Wrangle

Chelsea Lately Chelsea Handler Negotiotions

UPDATED: E! will not comment on the future of its signature latenight show “Chelsea Lately” on the heels of Variety’s Friday report that the show’s host, comedienne Chelsea Handler, and the NBCUniversal-owned network are grappling over the terms of her contract, which could result in the end of the only female-led program in the ever-splintering wee-hours landscape.

Handler is in the last year of her contract, and her show, “Chelsea Lately,” is slated to run on E! until the end of the year. Yet it is unclear whether she will want to continue after that date , according to people familiar with the situation. Another factor in the talks is likely to be the cost of the show, which debuted on E! in 2007, versus its ratings and advertising base, some of these people said.

“Chelsea has nine months left on her contract, and E! will not comment on the future of ‘Chelsea Lately’ at this time,” an E! spokesperson said in a statement.

Stephen Huvane, a spokesman for Handler, confirmed that Irving Azoff, Handler’s manager, indicated the celebrity plans to leave the network once her contract ends in 2014. An earlier call to Azoff was referred to Huvane. Inquiries to Handler’s agency, CAA,were not returned.

The comedienne fueled speculation about the coming discussions during a recent appearance on Howard Stern’s XM Sirius show, telling the satellite-radio host that she may well leave E! after the end of her contract and seek out a new option, like Netflix.

A parting of the ways could be detrimental for both sides. The show keeps Handler in the public eye, which fuels interest in TV projects as well as  her series of bestselling books. Her most recent effort, “Uganda Be Kidding Me,” about her humorous travels abroad, recently hit bookstores. Handler has set up a production outlet,  Borderline Amazing, with longtime collaborator Tom Brunelle.

At the same time, “Chelsea Lately” is one of E!’s truly signature programs, alongside various shows  featuring the Kardashian family, and “The Soup.” In recent months, the NBCUniversal-owned network has experimented with a number of now-canceled attempts to start a new franchise, including reality series  featuring the family of actor/director Clint Eastwood; athlete Ryan Lochte; and Kevin Jonas, the eldest of the Jonas Brothers, and his new bride. Under president Suzanne Kolb, the network has slowly dipped its toes into scripted programming, with a new show,”The Royals,” slated to debut in early 2015, and another, “Songbyrd,” in development

If “Chelsea Lately” were to go off the air, E! would have to come up with a new way to stay relevant in the late-night space, particularly as NBC’s “Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel” make a play for younger audiences it also seeks and Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live” aims to attract a female demographic similar to the one Handler wins on E!.

In recent years, ratings  for Handler’s show have dipped. In 2010, “Chelsea Lately” attracted an average audience of 839,000 overall; an average of 563,000 people between the ages of 18 and 49; and an average of 369,000 women between 18 and 49, according to Nielsen. In 2013, the show attracted an average of 572,000 overall; an average of 329,000 between the ages of 18 and 49; and an average of 219,000 women between 18 and 49.

Ad revenue from the show has also tumbled. In 2011, advertisers spent $159.8 million on “Chelsea Lately,” according to data from Kantar, a tracker of ad spending. In 2013, sponsors put $135.4 million behind the show, representing a dip of about 15.3%.

Could a replacement program be in the pipeline? On its recently announced development slate, E! said it was preparing a show called “After Party,” a 30-minute daily program that recaps the best of the past 24 hours in television and pop culture news, “including the good, the bad, and the ugly.” Plans call for the program to be hosted by “a panel of television and pop culture experts.” The show is produced by Wilshire Studios, NBCUniversal’s unscripted production arm.

(Updated Sunday, March 30 at 2:26 PM PT)

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  1. FinallySome GoodNews says:

    As TJPhoto said, “It’s hard to stomach the combination of her ego, the petty gossip, the unfunny bits that border on or overflow into bad taste for no benefit, her merciless slamming of anyone she dislikes, and the general mean-spirited quality of the whole enterprise. She comes across as catty and feeling superior, a nasty person with a bad attitude schmoozing with others about trivial trash.” On top of that her misandry is sickening. Her time has come and gone.

  2. gompy says:

    I never knew she was on TV and found out by accident this year. I have become a frequent watcher and follower of Ms. Handler. She has a “supporting” staff of comedians, which make sit funny. In fact, much finnier than all other “late shows”. I use to like and watch Letterman and thereafter Andy at Bravo, but switched and now watch Ms. Handler. She is funny and tells it like it is and her guest are funny to. I hope that when she leaves E, she will remain on TV. I am convinced that many people don’t know she has a show on E. that’s shows how important E think her show is. Marketing, people, marketing.
    To Chelsea Handler; Great show, great woman. Keep it up. And if you feel lonely, I gladly entertain you.

    • ReyNichols says:

      She is the best!!!!!!!!!!!1 Love her sense of humor, u know what some people cannot handle is just plain ole honesty, and a no bull shit attitude, she just doesn’t take small shit so seriously, how refreshing!!!

  3. TJPhoto says:

    I agree with the comment of Mr Hollywood. It’s been a long time since my last exposure to her repugnant show, but when I watched a portion of it, I couldn’t believe how horrible it was. It’s hard to stomach the combination of her ego, the petty gossip, the unfunny bits that border on or overflow into bad taste for no benefit, her merciless slamming of anyone she dislikes, and the general mean-spirited quality of the whole enterprise. She comes across as catty and feeling superior, a nasty person with a bad attitude schmoozing with others about trivial trash. Who needs that? She should pay US to be abused like that with such vile programming.

  4. Mr. Hollywood says:

    Please explain to me the talent and the appeal of this woman. I find her unfunny and this excuse for a show unwatchable. So sad that the quality bar as been set so low that she is actually deemed deserving of having her own show. Good riddance …

  5. ruthmoseley says:

    as Florence answered I didn’t know that any one able to earn $7583 in 1 month on the computer . have a peek here
    >>>>>>>> WWW.B­­A­­­Y­­­­9­­­­­1.C­O­M

  6. ReyNichols says:

    If chelsea Handler moves on it would be a really disappointment , I look forward to her , shows she is THE BEST…

  7. cadavra says:

    She can easily be replaced by a Kardashian. Any Kardashian.

    Remember when Bravo was an ad-free arts and culture channel? Thanks, NBCUniversal.

  8. lavender says:

    shes the best! and even if they let her go another network will 4 sure sign her on…so it would be E! s loss…!

  9. lavender says:

    chelsea lately is the only watchable show on E!…together w/ the soup.. the rest are garbage…plus they need to realise chelsea handler brings alot of publicity to this network shes so relevant….

  10. The average working people of America, in general, are fed up with the entire entertainment industry. All of these insecure entertainment folks should be glad just to have some form of (overpaid) employment — when millions of Americans don’t have a job, a home, food or health.

  11. Steve says:

    It would be tragic to see Chelsea Handler leave late night because she has balls. Unlike Joan Rivers, Chelsea stood up to her corporate overlords at NBCu and demanded her writing staff get a union contract. If Chelsea Lately leaves E!, they’ll replace it with a schlocky poptainment show that exploits the creative talent.

  12. Westindiesgirl says:

    E! should let her go…she hasn’t been relevant for a long time.

  13. I am 70 years old and never miss Chelsea’s show. (l also enjoy After Lately.) I hope a new contract is worked out. Chelsea Lately and Soup are the only programs I tune into E to watch.

  14. Sean says:

    I think you are being incredibly generous in saying that her ratings have “dipped.” Those are some shocking drops across the board.

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