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Why Chelsea Handler chose Netflix over TV

February 18, 2015, 11:20 PM UTC
Chelsea Handler arrives to the 2012 Huma
Chelsea Handler arrives to the 2012 Human Rights Campaign Los Angeles Gala at the JW Marriott L.A. Live in Los Angeles, California, on March 17, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ (Photo credit should read ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez — AFP/Getty Images

When Chelsea Handler left her nightly talk show last fall, she had plenty of options. She could have taken a host job at a late night network talk show, or starred in a sitcom. Instead, she signed a contract with Netflix. In 2016, the comedian will create a thrice-weekly comedy show for the streaming service.

Netflix, she said on stage at the Code/Media conference in Laguna Niguel today, was the only option. “They just get it. They get who you are,” she said. A telling detail: She was surprised to find that Netflix had plastered Sunset Boulevard with billboards advertising her standup special, “Uganda Be Kidding Me.”

“Coming from a place where they had no marketing for anything and you should be gathering your own audience and be happy to be here at all… to get that kind of support,” she said.

Beyond the ad support, she believes Netflix offers more creative control. “Network TV is so limited. There are so many parameters,” she said. “I don’t want to be plugged into something and do a job someone else did for 10 years. I want to create my own job.”

The lack of opinionated TV execs helps, too. “I don’t want someone who has no sense of humor or nothing in common with me to tell me what he thinks I should be doing,” Handler said.

She added a dig toward TV: “I don’t watch a sitcom and think, ‘That was funny.’ It’s lame. It’s all so lame.”

Her new show will move beyond the celebrity gossip of her TV talk show, Chelsea Lately. It’ll include a mix of international politics and human interest stories—”the kind of well-roundedness of 60 minutes but faster, quicker, cooler,” she said.