>> Chelsea Handler, Laura Prepon, Tom Werner: The Interview (Are you there, Chelsea?)

Show: Are you there, Chelsea?

Talent: Chelsea Handler, Laura Prepon, Tom Werner

Job: Executive Producer/ Actress (Sloan), Actress (Chelsea), Executive Producer

Airdate/Time: January 11, 2012 8:30pm

Network: NBC

Official Site

Interesting Tidbits

On March 28th, 2010, Chelsea's 3 books held the number one, two, and three spots on the NY Times Best Seller list at the same time.

Chelsea Handler is a comedian, best-selling author, late night talk show host (“Chelsea Lately”) and starting Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 8:30pm on NBC she will be playing executive producer and a character known as Sloan on a TV show called “Are you there, Chelsea?” The show is inspired by one of her books and it is based on her life during her 20’s. Sloan is Chelsea’s born-again Christian sister that has just had a baby and has nothing in common with her sibling. Playing the part of Chelsea, on the show, is Laura Prepon, who is best known for playing Donna on “That 70’s Show.” Helping Chelsea executive produce the show is Tom Werner, who has also worked on “Roseanne,” “That 70’s Show,” and “3rd Rock from the Sun.” Shakefire had the honor of interviewing Chelsea, Laura, and Tom to talk about the show.

SHAKEFIRE: Hi everyone! I just wanted to start off by saying that, Chelsea, I am a huge fan of yours and have to admit I am a bit start struck at the moment.
CHELSEA HANDLER: Hello and thank you!



SF: I was just wondering, how did the show come about?
TW: “Are you there, Chelsea?” is pretty much based on the characters from the 3 books (“Are you there, Vodka? It’s me Chelsea,” “My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands,” and “Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang”) that Chelsea wrote. It is from the point of view of 20 year old Chelsea Handler, who is strong, bold, and loyal to her friends. I was very excited to work with Chelsea on this.

She is a talented author and comedian and she has that strong authentic point of view about this character and her friends. This is always something you look for when developing a show. There is always a clear and strong voice and that tone Chelsea brings to her audience as an unusual and fearless woman.

CH: Well, I met with Tom and his business partner. We discussed about possibly making this into a TV show. They came to us and we talked about the books and how we would create the characters. We met with some writers and we hit it off and planned on turning it into a multi-camera comedy. They come to us about each episode and we tweak it to make things work out. It’s been a fun process and the landscape and process for a multi-camera comedy is very different. For instance, I get notes from everyone and it is more of a collaboration. Being mainly in the “cable world,” everything is different from what I am used to doing.

SF: How did you come up with the title of the show and what do you think of it?
CH: It’s good! I came up with it myself and I really hope I like it. It was similar to my book title ("Are you there, Vodka? It’s me Chelsea”), but we couldn't put “Vodka” in the title for network purposes. Having the “Chelsea” part is a play on the fact I'm not playing myself or sometimes I make ridiculous decisions without thinking. It means so many different things and I thought it was a cute way to keep to the book and tease the whole anti-vodka situation.

SF: How close is the show based on the book?
CH: I think Laura can better answer this since she is in every episode.

LP: Honestly, in the beginning you try to stick to the basic story, but as the characters evolve from the pilot, they become more established and the show becomes more and more loosely based on the book. It’s close now, but gets further away from the book as it progresses.

SF: Chelsea, How did the casting for Chelsea come about?
CH: It was great and a dream come true. I am so sick and tired of playing myself. I can’t even tell you.

SF: Okay, let me rephrase that. Did you have a hard time finding the right people to play the characters?
CH: NBC narrowed it down pretty well. We thought Laura would be perfect. She was very sassy, down to earth and very direct. These are three things I would identify with the most. She's a normal girl that's cool and laid back. She doesn't have any drama and she encapsulated those qualities from the first time we saw her. As soon as we met her, we thought Laura was perfect for the part.

SF: Chelsea, Why did you choose to play Sloan? She's a conservative born-again Christian mother. She seems like a total 180 from how you are on “Chelsea Lately” and “After Lately.”
CH: For the obvious reason that I wanted to do something a little more challenging. I've been playing myself for 35 years now. I wouldn’t get as much out of it and it’s not as much of a challenge to play myself. It’s been much more fun for me because I get to put on a wig and I give birth in the first episode. I am very uptight and I am still sarcastic, but more "buttoned up." It’s nice to play someone who is going against someone playing me. I thought it was a really fun role for me.

SF: After giving birth on the first episode, Chelsea, do you plan on having your own kids in the near future?
CH: Not after what I read through in the first episode! (Laughing)

SF: Laura, how did you prepare to play as Chelsea on the show?
LP: They trust me to do my own take on playing Chelsea. They want me to make her character my own and we combine to make this organic awesome thing.

CH: I also sent her a case of Belvedere to start.

LP: That lasted about a week and a half because all of my friends finished it. I've never felt stressed out about playing Chelsea with the real Chelsea right next to me. It’s been amazing and working with Chelsea has been awesome. She really helped me with the particular way she speaks. They trust me to do my thing and I think it's been great!

SF: Laura, How was the chemistry between the cast?
LP: Everyone in the cast is a pretty amazing group. There isn't a "bad egg." Everyone wants to work every day and we got lucky with a bunch of amazing actors and actresses in our group.

SF: Chelsea, How did you get Jo Koi on the show? He is one of my favorite comedians and I was happy to see him in the pilot.
CH: He's actually not on the show. He's only there for the pilot and then we had to replace him. We didn’t think the chemistry with all the people in the bar was working perfectly, so we needed someone that was actually a lot better looking. You can quote me on that. (Laughing)

SF: Chelsea, How much of your relationship with your father actually plays into the show?
CH: It’s a sizeable component in the show. We casted Lenny Clarke as Chelsea's father. He's really hilarious on the show. He doesn't physically look like my dad, which is probably a favor to America, but the essence of my dad is there. We couldn't have an actual person on the show use the bathroom in public without an actual toilet, so we decided to go with the more cleaned up version of my father.

SF: Do you ever feel bad about making fun of other people on any of your shows?
CH: No I don't. Most of the people I make fun of mostly deserve to be made fun of.

SF: Are there any topics you wouldn’t want to talk about on any of your shows?
CH: Yeah! I don’t talk about anything to do with ugly babies and people who are dying. I just don’t find those topics necessarily funny to me.

SF: What would you tell your 20 year old self after the book and the show?
CH: I'd tell her to do it all over again and to do it the same way because a lot of good things come from it.

SF: You have so much on your plate like the comedy tours, your three shows, and writing books. When do you find time to sleep?
CH: Well, I am actually doing this call in bed right now with a cappuccino. I could have opted to do this call in my office, but I chose to do it from my bedroom instead.

SF: (Laughing) Wow! That’s good to know. Well, I have one quick request for you Chelsea.
CH: Sure! Go ahead.

SF: Can you do a huge favor me and tell Ryan Basford that I think he is a total cutie and he is very hilarious?
CH: Sure! I’ll be sure to let him know as soon as he is done walking my dogs.



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