The Cast and Creators of Are You There, Chelsea? Tease Tonight's Premiere

Before she was a TV personality, comedian Chelsea Handler found an audience with her books. Her first memoir, Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, is a firsthand account of a woman drinking, dating, and generally making the most of her twenties. Now with a slightly revised title, Handler’s book is getting the sitcom treatment with Are You There, Chelsea?, which premieres tonight on NBC.

Earlier this week, the cast and producers were on hand to talk about the series at the Television Critics Association press tour.

That ‘70s Show’s Laura Prepon stars as title character Chelsea; Handler herself, who serves as the show's producer, will play the recurring character of Chelsea's sister Sloane.

“First of all, it’s a dream come true to have someone else portray me, because I’ve been living this life for a long time and I’m over myself,” Handler confided. “And it’s a pleasure to play my sister because everything I’ve been accusing her of my whole life, I can now reenact before her eyes.”

Prepon is putting her own spin on the character of Chelsea, something that was important for the real Handler, who notes that she's a lot angrier in real life than the sitcom version of her character.

“[Prepon]’s not gonna be a caricature of me or, you know, of what she thinks I am,” Handler noted. “We all wanted to give Laura license to make the character as great as she could, and she has. I like myself much better as her.”

Producer Tom Werner, who’s responsible for classic sitcoms like The Cosby Show and Roseanne, sees the character of Chelsea as very much in line with some of his past heroines.

“I’ve spent my career developing shows with flawed characters,” Werner reflected. “You look at Roseanne, and this was a woman who some people thought was very abrasive. This is a woman who is very brave. She’s unapologetic.”

Prepon also considers Chelsea’s contentious character to be a point in the show’s favor, noting that she does learn from her mistakes -- the series begins with Chelsea’s arrest for drunk driving -- and that there is growth to a character who is, in many ways, quite immature.

“You realize there are some consequences to things that you do, because she is ballsy and brash and not PC,” Prepon explained. “And people are gonna love that about her, because I think that people relate to flawed characters. You know, nobody’s perfect.”

In addition to the title change, Are You There, Chelsea? has experienced some recasting and development since its pilot. Prepon sees the show’s midseason premiere as an asset, since it has allowed the writers and producers more time to tinker with the series.

“We were able to have that time to really fine-tune the show,” she said. “When you have the time, you’re really able to look at it and make sure we could put out the best, most amazing product we can. And we’ve done that, because this group is incredible.”

Rescue Me’s Lenny Clarke plays Chelsea’s father Melvin. At the TCA panel, he offered the most succinct (and yes, favorable) explanation of the series -- and why he thinks NBC was smart to pick it up.

“You’ve got brilliant writers, you’ve got Tom Werner who’s had nine shows syndicated,” Clarke said. “You’ve got a woman who’s got four books on the bestseller list, two hit television shows, and the hottest-grossing comedian in the country today. Why not take a shot?”


Are You There, Chelsea? premieres tonight at 8:30pm on NBC.

Comments (12)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
it was alright. It wasn't that funny. Chelsea was funnier on Whitney. Laura looks better than ever though
Reply
Flag
I know its mean, but i want this show to do really bad so it will get cancelled and NBC can replace it with Community ASAP.
Reply
Flag
I'm giving this a chance purely for Chelsea. I think, however, a show about Chelsea Handler should of really been on cable. Chelsea isn't a censored comedienne - it will be interesting to see how they censor the stories from her books into a network show.
Reply
Flag
I've read all the Cheslea Handler books and love every one. They are absolutely hilarious and I can't wait to see the show. When Whitney started, my first thought was that Whitney was a poor, cheesey impersonation of Chelsea. I was pleasantly surprised that Chelsea made and appearance on the show and thrilled to hear about the new show. YEAH Chelsea!
Reply
Flag
I am BEGGING, please do a "We Watched It For You." PLEASE!
Reply
Flag
THIS
Reply
Flag
Both are bad. Beyond bad.



Are you there Chelsea. It just doesn't work. Whitney doesn't work. Success as a comedian or success as a talk show host, doesn't translate into success in acting. Chelsea is wooden as an actress. Seriously wooden. As for Miss Prepon, I think she is too much of an actress, or well she thinks she is too much of an actress for the role. It seems like she is trying to recall how someone told her to deliver the line so that it would be funny. If they wanted a better show they should have got a true comedic actress or someone more raw. Mary Elizabeth Ellis would have been better. This just doesn't work and it is sad if they think this is the way the network should go with either shows.



This is the same with the Firm.



NBC literally took two shows that were very well and smartly written and extremely well acted in Prime Suspect and Community and replaced them both with shows the lack what they predecessors had. There is nothing smart about Chelsea, there is nothing smart about Whitney and there is nothing smart about The Firm. The writing in all three are lazy and can't go to the depths of Prime Suspect or the heights of Community. It seems NBC is going for lazy and cheap laughs and lazy and mediocre plot hole ridden writing in The Firm. If this is the way they are heading. I would suggest to Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and everyone else with talent and get out. Get out now, because the shining stars on a turd are still on a turd.



They seem to be going on the basis of names and that is it. Tom Werner may have 9 syndicated shows. But those were largely in the 90's. For every 70's show and Tracy Morgan show he has. He also has the 80's show and Whoopi. Whitney and Chelsea comprable to the latter not the former. And Chelsea and Whitney might be better than average comedians. But as far as acting goes. They are lacking. They are not going to further the brand of NBC as how Poehler and Fey have done. They lucked into the both of them and deserve neither. And again for what it is worth, I would tell them to run.
More+
Reply
Flag
I hope Chelsea's stuff is funnier than Whitney's. Granted she's a great comedian but she (Whitney) sure didn't transfer that over to television very well. I can only stare at her breast for so long and laugh dryly when the laugh track tells me to. Before i pull out a bat and murder my television.
Reply
Flag
I can't wait to see the pilot! Chelsea is hilarious!
Reply
Flag
Staff
Laura Prepon how DARE you forsake your natural redheadedness. PASS.
Reply
Flag
Could that wig real Chelsea's wearing look any more fake?
Reply
Flag
Only if it were one solid piece.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook