Netflix signs Handler to talk show deal



LOS ANGELES — Chelsea Handler is taking her bottle of Grey Goose to Netflix.

Having found tremendous success with original series such as “Orange Is the New Black” and “House of Cards,” Netflix is now going to try its hand at talk shows and struck a deal with the raunchy comedienne for a new program that will debut in 2016.

Known for her boozy and flirty persona, Handler rose to fame both as an author of several humor books including “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea” and for her late night show “Chelsea Lately,” which airs on Comcast’s E! channel. Handler indicated earlier this year that she would exit E! when her contract is up. Her last show is scheduled for Aug. 26.

Netflix did not provide any details about Handler’s show with regard to frequency and scheduling. The service is known for releasing entire seasons of its programs all at once so subscribers can binge-view them.

But talk shows are meant to be topical, so that approach may not work with Handler. Guests come on usually to promote an upcoming movie or TV series, which means Netflix will likely have to have some sort of structured schedule for its first entry into the genre.

“Netflix is looking forward to reimagining the late-night talk show for the on-demand generation, starting with the late-night part,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement.

As part of its deal, Netflix will premiere a one-hour stand-up comedy special from Handler on Oct. 10 of this year. The show is part of Handler’s comedy tour in support of her latest book, “Uganda Be Kidding Me.”

Netflix also will carry four comedy specials that Handler will develop for the service that will debut next year. Netflix said the specials will showcase Handler’s attempts to “gain a better understanding on a variety of subjects ranging from NASCAR to politics and from Silicon Valley to the NBA draft.”

Handler’s move is the latest in a series of seismic shifts in late-night talk. Earlier this year, Jay Leno was replaced as host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” by Jimmy Fallon. Then David Letterman announced he would retire from CBS next year and the network quickly tapped Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert to succeed him.

Soon after Letterman’s decision, Craig Ferguson also announced his exit from CBS’ “The Late Late Show.”

Now Handler is taking it to the next level by switching distribution platforms.

“If I was going to continue working in this industry, I knew I had to do something outside the box to keep myself interested,” Handler said in a statement. “I’m more excited than I’ve been in awhile, and the team at Netflix is the most forward-thinking, alert group I’ve sat down with in ages.”

For Netflix, the entry into the talk genre is the latest sign that it wants to compete against traditional television in all genres. Besides its critically acclaimed dramas, Netflix is also aggressively going after kids with original programming.