Will Chelsea Handler’s New ‘Late-Night’ Talk Show Be Netflix’s First Big Misstep?

June 19, 2014 4:08 PM

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Will Chelsea Handler’s New ‘Late-Night’ Talk Show Be Netflix’s First Big Misstep?

When Chelsea Handler announced that, after eight years on E!, she intended to leave the network following the expiration of her contract at the end of the year, I expected something big. This morning, my expectations were confirmed, with the announcement that Handler had signed a massive deal with Netflix to host a talk show for the streaming site that would air in 2016. (The deal also includes a stand-up special, Uganda Be Kidding Me, which will premiere in October, and four "docu-comedy" specials in 2015, in which Handler tries to learn about a variety of subjects like NASCAR and Silicon Valley.) In a press release, Handler said, "I wanted to sit with the cool kids at lunch so I approached Netflix to make sure they were as cool as I thought they were, and when I confirmed my suspicions, like with any other future lover, I made my move." And she's right: This is a really cool move. It also might be Netflix's first major misstep.

I'm not talking show-wise — one could argue that Lillyhammer, Hemlock Grove, and Derek fall anywhere from decent to subpar on the quality scale. No, I mean in terms of its ambitions. It's clear that Netflix is trying to expand its demographic reach and subscriber base with this play. About the deal,...

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