“Chelsea Lately” will continue to run original episodes until its finale, which will take place in a live hourlong program rather than the show’s customary 30 minutes. E!, which has run the show since July 16, 2007, said the last month of the program would feature special guests and special episodes. Starting August 27, an updated version of E! News will air in the network’s 11 p.m. timeslot.
The two sides will part months before they were expected to do so. Handler’s latest contract was supposed to have her working for E! until the end of 2014. In recent months, however, she has been increasingly vocal about her desire to leave the program and the network behind.
“I myself am more surprised than anyone that I was able to hold down a job for seven years, and it was a fantastic seven years,” said Handler in a prepared statement. “I will always look back at my time on E! as most people look back at their time in college. I’m glad I went.” A spokesman for the comedienne, Stephen Huvane, said she had no comment beyond that.
“We are very proud of ‘Chelsea Lately’s’ long-running success and the unique space that the series carved out in latenight television,” said Suzanne Kolb, president of the network, in a statement. “Chelsea brought a distinct voice to latenight with her acerbic wit and fearless commentary, and we look forward to providing fans with a memorable sendoff that lives up to that tradition. Most of all, we are grateful to the ‘Chelsea Lately’ team for making this show so special for seven years.”
Handler’s departure means the network loses a signature program. E! is dabbling in new scripted fare and has signed its veteran news correspondent Giuliana Rancic to a new multiyear deal, but ad buyers believe the network needs to broaden beyond its heavy dependence on programs related to the Kardashian family.
The halt of “Chelsea Lately” opens another front in a daypart that has been in extreme flux since David Letterman announced earlier this year that he would leave CBS’ “Late Show” sometime next year. Craig Ferguson, who followed Letterman, will also leave his perch on “The Late Late Show.” CBS has yet to announce a replacement. E! is in active development on latenight projects that fit within its brand, according to a person familiar with the matter, and plans to launch a new latenight series next year.