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There isn’t a huge female presence in late night talk television, but for eight years Chelsea Handler has dominated the genre, handling E’s late night talk scene presence like a pro. Now, that stint looks as if it will be coming to an end. On Sunday, Handler’s manager, Irving Azoff spoke out to say that Handler will be leaving the cable network when her contract ends at the end of 2014.
Here’s what we know. Handler has found pretty major success in her late night slot, but in recent years her ratings have been slipping a little bit. At the same time, she has nabbed gigs on other television programs and in films, including This Means War, Fun Size and several episodes of Web Therapy. Additionally, her latest book, Uganda Be Kidding Me has been doing pretty well on the New York Times Bestseller list. It makes sense that she might want to head away from E! and sign on for a new project, but we still have no idea what that gig might be.
Handler’s known for plenty of outrageous behavior and one-liners associated with late nights and an unabashed love for sex. As funny as she may be, she doesn’t seem like a tame enough personality for network television, so we have to wonder what the late night host and sometimes actress has in the cards coming up. It seems like she is in pretty high demand, however. According to an interview Azoff gave with THR, Handler currently has “seven suitors” circling around her meaning a new gig is likely to land before her contract is up.
Seriously, here is a portion of his exact quote…
"Chelsea intends to leave when her contract expires. She hired me to figure out her life after E! We have at least seven suitors and many ideas.”
Still, this whole thing could be Azoff blowing smoke in order to create some negotiating leverage moving forward. While Handler is as big of a name as ever, her ratings are not increasing. They’re ever so slowly going the other way. With her contract up in a little less than a year, she and her representative may think E! will try to force her to take less money. So, claiming she’s going to leave could convince the network to come to the bargaining table early. After all, while she might not bring in the numbers she once did, she still does better than her lead-ins and attracts a lot of publicity
Thus far, E! has refused to comment on any of these shenanigans. That’s highly unlikely to change either. Most companies have some kind of standard policy about refusing to address contract matters publicly. Besides, it’s nothing but bad press to answer any of these charges.
We’ll keep you updated.