Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
There was some playfully feigned confusion this afternoon as to who the star of the new NBC multicamera sitcom Are You There, Chelsea? is. Chelsea Handler, on whose bestselling memoir Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea the show is based, is featured prominently in the promos for the series, which premieres later this month. Are You There, Chelsea? centers on a twentysomething bad-girl version of Handler who is played by Laura Prepon while Handler appears in seven of the 13 episodes as her Born-Again Christian sister. Handler, who executive produces the series, was quick to set the record straight. “We want people to know that I’m part of the show but that this is the star of the show,” Handler said, motioning to Prepon. She stressed that any advertising for the show should be crystal clear. “We don’t want anyone to get confused or think I’m the star… It’s a lot more fun for me to play my sister than it would be to play myself. (Handler has a sister in real life). It’s a lot more challenging … But it’s Laura’s show ultimately… I’d love to be in it as often as possible, but I seriously don’t have the time. I like my E! show, I like being under the radar.” The last comment evoked some groans as it came out as a jab at the cable network.
Another burning question flared during the session: Why did NBC drop the word “vodka” from the original title, which was matched that of Handler’s memoir. Was the network worried that some viewers could be turned off by the reference to alcohol? “Well, not everyone likes vodka,” Handler said. “Not everyone is into alcohol as much as I am. So I think the network wanted people to (embrace) the show whether or not they had as big a drinking problem as I do.” According to co-star Lenny Clarke it’s irrelevant what the show’s called or whether or not Handler is in it, as the series is pretty much a guaranteed hit. “(Handler)’s got four books on the bestseller list, two hit television shows, and she’s the hottest comedienne in the country today,” a svelte Clark, who has slimmed down by some 100 pounds over the past few years, said. “Plus, she’s a genius, she’s brilliant, and she’s hot. Why not take a shot?” To which Handler retorted: “I’m not fucking you Lenny.”