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Q) Why did you choose to play Sloane?
Chelsea: I think for the obvious reason that I wanted to do something that was a little bit more challenging. Iíve been playing myself for 35 years now, so I donít really - Iím not really getting as much out of it as I would a challenge to play something thatís completely, you know, against type. So itís been much more fun to put on a wig and, you know, I give bright in the first episode, and Iím very, very uptight. And, you know, Iím very sarcastic, still, the character, but Iím very kind of buttoned-up. So itís fun to just kind of dress shlumpy and, you know, and have a completely different appearance and have a completely different attitude. So - and itís nice to play against, you know, someone whoís playing me. So I can really, you know, itís very antithetical to Chelsea. So itís kind of a really fun role.
Q) How did you guys get Jo Koy on the show?
Chelsea: Heís actually not on the show. He was just in the pilot and then we had to replace him because, well, we just didnít think, you know, we didnít think that chemistry between all the people in the bar was working perfectly. So we actually needed somebody who was a lot better looking. And you can put that in quotes.
Q) What is the genesis of you, Chelsea, getting this show on the air? Was it a - did they just reach out to you and say, hey, how about turning this into a TV show? Or is there more of a story behind there?
Chelsea: Tom Werner and his business partner. And we were - discussed, you know, possibly making this into a TV show. So they actually came to us. And we sat down and talked about, you know, the books and the, you know, how we would create the characters. And then they came and brought us some writers that we met with who are Dottie and Laurie. And we hit it off and thought they would have a really good take on the show, and kind of formatting it to a multi-camera comedy. So they really kind of took it and went from there. And, you know, weíre all kind of heavily involved in the process. But we let them kind of come up with the stories for each episode and mine whatever they want to from the book. And then we tweak it however we see fit. So itís been a really fun process. Itís a very different process for me because, basically, Iím involved in the cable world heavily, as far as TV goes. And, you know, the landscapes for a multi-camera live audience sitcom is very, very different. The process is very different and the whole, you know, the whole experience has been very different. You know, in cable we donít take notes or we donít have to, you know, we tape our show - my show, ďChelsea Lately,Ē in 22 minutes a day. And ďAfter LatelyĒ is a different process, but itís also single camera, so itís very different than ďAre You There, Chelsea?" So itís been, you know, it takes four hours to tape one show. So itís very, very different for me. And you get notes from the network, you get notes from the studio. So itís a completely - itís a much different - itís much bigger - much more of a collaboration than anything Iím used to doing.
Q) And you clearly donít let the grass grow underneath your feet between having, you know, involved in this and having your cable shows, and touring and writing books. So when do you find time to sleep?
Chelsea: Well Iím in bed right now, if that answers your question, having a cappuccino. I could have done this call from office, but I opted to do it from my bedroom.
Q) What do you think of the title as it is now?
Chelsea: Oh good. I came up with it. So I hope I like it. You canít put the content in the title, for network purposes. So I thought, ďAre You There, Chelsea?Ē was a funny play on, you know, the fact that Iím not plying myself. You know, the fact that, you know, sometimes she makes ridiculous decisions. And so it was kind of like, you know, not a double entendre. Maybe a triple entendre. I mean, it means so many different things, ďAre You There, Chelsea?Ē So I thought it was a cute way to kind of keep to the book and also kind of appease the whole anti-vodka situation. Although there is plenty of drinking on the show. You just canít have it in the title.
Q) I wanted to ask you what itís like to have someone else play you?
Chelsea: Oh itís great. Itís a dream come true. Iím so sick of playing myself I canít even tell you.
Q) And how did the casting for that work? You know, was it hard to find the right person?
Chelsea: NBC had narrowed it down pretty well. So, I mean, as soon as we all saw Laura we thought she was perfect. Sheís very salty, sheís very down to earth, you know, sheís very direct, which are, you know, three things that Iíd like to, you know, I mean, that I would identify myself with being. So it was very nice to have somebody that was just, you know, sheís a normal girl. I mean, sheís a very, very, like cool laid back kind of girl. You know, thereís not a lot of drama. So, you know, the whole thing about my books and my life is that I create, you know, dramaís always around me. So it gives me an excuse to look the sanest person in the bunch, even though some of my actions are ridiculous. So she kind of encapsulated that from the minute we saw her. So it was really no - I mean, there was really no question. You know, as soon as we met her, we thought she was perfect.
Q) And this a different venture for you. Do you get nervous about how the show will do?
Chelsea: Oh yes. I mean, you know, I mean, I donít get caught - I mean, I wouldnít say I get caught up in it. I mean, luckily I have, you know, I have a lot of jobs so itís not the end-all, be-all. But I would love nothing more than for this to be a success. You know, itís a completely different medium, so you really donít know how itís going to be received until you see it on the air. You know, I was watching a bunch of episodes yesterday, giving notes on the episodes that weíve done, and I think, you know, to myself, ďGod, this show is really, really funny. I hope that there is, you know, I hope that everyone who has been so loyal to me for so many years comes and sees this show and it still - and has the same feelings that I do about it.Ē Because I am getting really excited about the show. And Iím really, really hopeful that people will see it. And I think NBC, you know, NBC just it had, you know, they have someone like Bob Greenblatt, whoís running the network now, and he, you know, heís probably the best guy I can think of to do it. And heís - and, you know, it will take time. But the network will turn around. I mean, I grew up with NBC and it was my show, with the Cosbyís and ďFamily Ties.Ē And, you know, that was my channel. Like, NBC was it. So if, you know, if thereís ever a time for women to be kind of taking over for a night of television, any night, whatever night that might be, I mean, itís definitely, you know, now.
Q) How much of your relationship with your father will be explored on the show?
Chelsea: Well, I mean, thatís actually a pretty - itís a pretty sizeable component in the show. Because, I mean, the casting, you know, we cast Lenny Clarke, who is really, really hilarious in the show. So itís funny. He doesnít really physically look anything like my father, which is probably a favor to America. And he - and heís - you know, itís not a pure depiction. Every character isnít a pure depiction of what you read about in the book, but the essence of everybody is kind of there. So, you know, we couldnít have somebody on the show actually going to the bathroom in public places without using toilets. So we decided to go for the more cleaned up version of my father, which happens to be Lenny Clarke.
Q) Laura, did you find chemistry with the cast (in some much) I know there was a bit of a change during the middle of filming. But was it pretty instant when you began working with everyone?
Laura: Yes. I mean, the group is - everyone put together a really amazing group. And, you know, weíre really lucky to have people who - thereís like, you know, there isnít one, I donít know, bad egg, I guess you would say. Everyone loves coming to work every day and we really got lucky with a bunch of amazing actors that are all working together. Itís awesome.
Q) Chelsea, you mentioned giving birth on the first episode. Do you have any plan on actually doing that in the future for you?
Chelsea: Not after what I went through in the first episode, no.
Q) Do you ever regret making jokes or making fun of other people?
Chelsea: No. No I donít. I feel like the people I make fun of kind of deserve to be made fun of.
Q) What was it that made you on the track to being a comedian?
Chelsea: I donít know. I like to laugh. Itís kind of escapism. I like to, you know, make people laugh. And I kind of like people just to have to not think about anything. So, I mean, being able to kind of give that feeling in whatever medium it falls under, whether itís cable or network or standup or books or whatever, I just kind of like to leave a feeling - people feeling like, oh, whatever theyíve done isnít nearly as bad as what Iíve done. And - so that also makes them feel better about themselves. And also to have it be in a humorous vein.
Q) Iím just wondering if thereís something about Mormon Jewish humor. I know that you come from a family of Mormons and Jews, and I know Roseanne Barr grew up in a Mormon community and she said it was a big influence and sheís Jewish.
Chelsea: I think thereís humor to be kind of mined from anything, you know, depending on what your situation is. I mean, any kind of cross-relations when your growing up is always kind of, you know, ground for good material. I - itís - so it doesnít matter. I mean, you know, thereís plenty of Jewish comedians. I think it just - it matters what your take on it is if you look at it. If you look at your circumstance, whether it be, you know, it could be anything. If you look at it with kind of, you know, askance and think, okay, somethingís a little off here, then usually, you know, you can make - you can usually make a career out of that.
Q) Iíve read about you, you talked much about being an outsider. And Iím wondering is - has the outsider come inside now in the sense of youíre a major success in the various fields. And Iím wondering if that element of the outsider still eats away at you?
Chelsea: You know, there are moments where sometimes - I mean, I - obviously Iíve, you know, accomplished or experienced a lot in this industry. And I have, you know, I have had amazing highs. And I just - and I definite - and Iíve had big lows. But I definitely, you know, I donít feel like an outsider. But that voice is always kind of there. So thereís always times where you think do I really belong here? Or, you know, theyíre very few and far between as compared to, you know, ten years ago or my childhood. But obviously that voice always, you know, I mean, Iím pretty healthy about it, so Iím pretty good about not letting that ever get the best of me. And to let fleeting thoughts fleet.
Q) I was reading your bio and I see there's an update. The character went from Shoshana to Sloane.
Chelsea: Well Shoshana, her nameís always been Sloane in the books. So we just kept all the names from the book. I did do that for legal reasons so that my family wasnít able to sue me. Well with my family you never know. They say no, but I donít know. I donít trust anybody.
Q) How loosely based on the book is this?
Laura: I mean, honestly I think that, you know, we were talking about this the other day, and I think that, you know, with any show itís like in the beginning you might stick to certain stories and certain things. But as the characters kind of evolved, you know, after the pilot, things just kind of, you know, the characters become more established and I think that it becomes more and more loosely based on the stories. As the characters evolve and different things come up on the show that are funny and are like, oh wait, thatís really funny when we play that kind of storyline with that character. Letís make that a characteristic of that person and then there becomes an episode about it. So I think itís just kind of depends. But right now it seems like itís getting farther away from that. I mean, and, you know, people ask me about playing, you now, the real Chelsea and everything. And itís kind of the same with that where, you know, they really trust me to do my take of it. And itís really great because I can really kind of, you know, make her my own and we kind of become this kind of organic, awesome thing, which is great.
Q) Laura, how did you prep to play Chelsea knowing that she was not only your co-star, but also the executive producer on the show?
Laura: All of my friends, they pre-game at my house. They come and have drinks first before we go out. So that didnít last very long, which, Chelsea, that was an awesome gift. Yes, I - you know, itís weird, because people ask me like are you nervous like, you know, playing Chelsea and sheís in the scene right next to you? And honestly, Iíve never been nervous or stressed out about it. I really, like, she really lets me do my own take on her. And itís been amazing. Iíve never really felt like, oh no, this isnít the right way to, you know, play it. I mean, Chelsea speaks to a very - with a very - with a certain pattern. And when we were doing a lot of voiceovers she really helped me a lot with a particular way that she speaks, which is awesome. But other than that, they really trust me to do my thing. Itís great.
Q) Chelsea, having written a book and now seeing it turned into a TV series, is there anything that you would tell your 20-year-old or 25-something self, knowing what you know now?
Chelsea: Yes. Do it all over and do it the same way. Because a lot of good things come from it.
Q) Chelsea, what made you decide to stay on doing "Chelsea Lately?" If it had anything to do with sitcom, juggling both? What was behind that decision?
Chelsea: I realized I was in a position at E! to kind of make the show into whatever I wanted to make it into. So if I want to get more serious about topics or talk more about politics or sports or what have - whatever it may be, that I kind of have the audience already in place. So I figured I would rather just stay here in a place where Iíve kind of built the loyal fan base and use that as kind of a jumping off point, rather than starting all fresh - starting fresh with another network. So that was part of it. And, yes, this show, you know, filming the sitcom was really, you know, with all the - I have three shows going on. And itís pretty much as much as I can do at one point. So with all these things happening, Iíd like to just get them all off the ground before I start making different changes, you know, in my career. And Iím happy at E! and theyíve been really good to me. And, you know, it just made sense to stay.
Q) What kind of comedy is off the table to you? Is there any topic that you wonít touch at all?
Chelsea: Probably just ugly babies. I donít like to talk about - or people who are dying. I mean, so thatís - those two things arenít really necessarily funny to me.
Q) What would fans be surprised to know about you that they wouldnít know by watching the show or seeing you in Hollywood?
Chelsea: I donít know. I donít know what anyone - I donít know enough about what people think about me to know what theyíd be surprised about. Just the obvious stuff.
Q) What other plans do you have for 2012 other than the show?
Laura: Well, oh God, thatís a tough one too. Basically, you know, Iím hoping that obviously the show gets picked up because itís unbelievable and the group is amazing and, you know, we just all love going to work every day. And, you know, other than that, right after the show ends Iím going to have to (sign off because I have a film there) and just focus on my directing too besides the show. Thatís pretty much my goal this year.
Q) One of the things I love about your show, Chelsea, youíre, you know, ďChelsea LatelyĒ is that you bring comics in that normally donít get a chance or shot on TV -- really good comics, friends of yours that are bright and work well with you. And Iím wondering if weíre going to have that same kind of awesome casting with this show. Were you going to bring in people you know have the goods that are really good solid comics that you love to watch and have them get a shot?
Chelsea: Yes, I mean, and I think thatís the first thing that youíll notice is a lot of these people are unknown and a lot of them are - I mean, well most all of them, except for Laura, are unknown. And theyíre all come from, you know, most of them, you know, come from a comedic background. We have a little person on the show, we have a woman named Ali Wong whoís a comedian, who's really, really funny on the show, plays Chelseaís best friend. And then we have another actress who plays Dee Dee, whoís hilarious. And then we also have Natasha Leggero, whoís been on, you know, a bunch of ďChelsea Lately,Ē and then among other things she joins the cast too for about seven episodes, I think. And so, yes, everyone comes from, you know, a comedic background, which I think is really, really important. Also, you know, thereís - they have to also be strong actors and - or strong characters. And they are. Everyone is a character, you know, unto themselves, which I think is something that is really reflective of the way, you know, all the books are. And the way I like to see TV, I like to see, you know, real people that all have something. I donít want to just see kind of like a supplement to a storyline. I like to see a real person in each role. And I think weíve accomplished that. I mean, I know weíve accomplished that.
Q) Thereís comedies like ďCalifornication,Ē which are funny but very also very poignant too as far as themes of addiction and drinking and whatnot. And then thereís, you know, shows like ďWhitney,Ē where itís all very - itís on a certain plane, the laughs. And Iím wondering where your show falls in between those two examples?
Laura: Yes. I mean, honestly I think that audiences are a lot - theyíre getting a lot smarter now. I mean, weíre on at 8:30, which when I first found that out I was assuming we were going to be a later show because we really do, you know, push the envelope. But I donít know. I think audiences are more mature now. I think theyíre smarter now. And I think that - I mean, we definitely push the envelope and weíre very kind of risquť, you know what I mean? And thereís some stuff that we get away with for the first couple takes and then, you know, Standards and Practices kind of makes us rewrite them. But I think that people are going to love the show because we really kind of - we push the boundaries. And people are, you know, at first itís because, you know, itís because, you know, itís Chelseaís show, I think people are kind of expecting us to be different and interesting and fun. And it is. You know, we really do go there, and I think people are going to love it.
Q) Chelsea, Iím curious to know how much of a challenge is it for you to switch off between acting and producing?
Chelsea: Itís not a challenge at all. I mean, Iíve been doing that on my other projects for, you know, for ďChelsea LatelyĒ and ďAfter LatelyĒ and pretty much everything Iíve ever done has kind of - Iím also a producer on them, with my books or my standup tour and everything. So itís very natural to me. You know, I actually prefer the off-camera stuff to the on-camera stuff, to be quite honest.
Q) What would you say is the formula for good comedic TV?
Laura: I was just going to say from being fortunate enough to be on shows that have lasted a long time, and people have really responded to, is I honestly think that it - the formula for a show for people to come back and watch is you have to really love the characters and you have to care about them. I really think thatís the main thing because, you know, we always said that you could put that show in any decade, but you really care about the characters. And on this show one of the main things I really realized very quickly was all these characters are very real, theyíre really funny, and you care about them. And you care about their relationships. And I think the people, aside from the comedy, are really going to respond to that. And, you know, our main set piece on the show is a sports bar which, you know, itís very - itís got like a little bit a ďCheersĒ vibe where, you know, everybody does kind of know your name. You know what I mean? Like you feel comfortable there, and I really think audiences are going to love coming back to see, you know, whatís happening with us, which is great.
Q) Chelsea, the people around you have been elevated in stature because of their association with you. And Iím wondering, you mentioned that Natasha would be on the show and Ali Wong. What about any guest appearances cameos by Chunk and Gary Handler?
Chelsea: Well Gary is not - he canít even learn how to go to the bathroom outside all of the time. So heís definitely not going to be on TV. Iím not going to reward him with a television cameo until he gets that down. Chunk is - I donít know. Maybe weíll have Chunk come on. We havenít had him - we havenít thought about that yet. He doesnít - we have to film the show in Burbank, which is the Valley, and Chunkís never been to the Valley. So I donít want to shock his system just yet. Heís just dealing with the fact that I got another dog.
Q) Laura, youíve been working with some very notable comedians lately with Chelsea Handler, of course, and on ďThat 70s ShowĒ with Tommy Chong. What do you learn from being around such notable characters in comedy?
Laura: Well honestly I think the main thing is just, you know, instinct. Like, a lot of amazing, you know, comedians that Iíve worked with just really follow their instincts and you canít really teach someone comedic timing. And you just kind of have it. And itís really great to, you know, be around that and see that and, you know, fortunately grow up with it on an amazing show like ď70s,Ē you know?
Q) Now although the show is just premiering, how do you hope the progression of Chelseaís character will continue as you tell the story, or her story?
Laura: I mean, right now weíre not too worried about that. Right now weíre just, you know, telling amazing stories and I think people are going to really love the characters and want to come back just, you know, kind of check out what weíre up to and whatís going on with the relationships. But I think, if anything, weíll just naturally grow like any other show and have evolved to, you know, to that type of thing. You know what I mean.
Chelsea: Yes, I think itíll probably progress naturally like it, you know, it has in real life. You know, over time, obviously, you know, the characterís set in her 20s. She plays, you know, 26 or 27-year-olds when Iím in the mid-20s. And just kind of where I was at at that time. And obviously, you know, you grow, you know, you grow over time. I mean, itís just one season. So right now weíre just trying to establish the character. But with success, you know, obviously sheíll go though ups and downs and probably grow out of it just the same way I have. But, you know, I had a really good time for a really long time, and then it just turned into a different kind of good time. So we shall see. Sheís definitely getting her share of good times, though, because she has a different guest star -- male guest star -- every week that she has to make out with or have sex with. Sometimes when we want to give her a break we donít make her have sex with them. We just make her kiss them.
Q) Chelsea, you make a lot of references on your talk show about your style or sense of style and how sometimes you have to get a little bit more glammed up, depending on who your guests are that day. What kind - whatís the sense of personal style that you want to transition into the show?
Chelsea: You know what? Iíve never really been one - I mean, obviously itís nice to have nice things. But Iíve always kind of had the feeling, ever since I started doing standup, that it was better to draw attention to what youíre saying than what - than to you - the way you look. And so thatís always - you know, Iíve gotten a lot of flack for it. People are like, oh, you know, you donít, you know, youíre - you could be dressing up, you could be doing - you know, you look like such a tomboy. You know, this was earlier on. And Iíve always been like, well thatís not really the focus of what Iím doing. You know, I wanted to be a comedian, I wanted people to laugh at what I was saying, not to be, you know, staring at my boobs or, you know, wearing a skirt and show off my - I just didnít think that that was the best way to get taken seriously in that world. You know, now itís a little different and I have a lot more fun with stuff because of, you know, because Iíve established myself and everything. But, you know, you definitely donít want it to be a distraction. And, you know, obliviously Lauraís really, like sexy and cool and all of those things. So you want to embody that without making it the focal point.
Q) And as two women whoíve had such longevity on television, have you noticed that youíve felt your personal style changing over time?
Laura: Yes I think naturally, you know, itís kind of like we tell (to this guy) where itís like when you start out a certain way everything kind of, you know, it always evolves, it always changes. You know, youíre always growing. I know that, you know, when I first started acting, I mean, Iíve evolved and changed so much and learned so much, obviously. And I think that all is, you know, that all comes through in your acting and your comedy.
Chelsea: Yes and I would say definitely. Iíve definitely evolved with style and all of that stuff. Because, you know, when youíre able to get nicer things you get them and youíre able to appreciate nicer things. Itís like anything in life. You know, you start to get to travel to the places that, you know, you wonít - werenít able to afford before. You know, itís also where your focal point is in life and whatís important to you at the time. You know, in the sitcom, Lauraís whole life is just about the here and now, and like, having as much fun as possible and enjoying life and not being judgmental and just, you know, kind of taking everything in stride and being able to make fun of herself while also being able to make fun of the people around her.
Q) How much of a role does Jersey play in this show? Is it true that it was originally supposed to be in LA?
Laura: Yes. I mean, honestly, we donít really reference New Jersey that much. I mean, if anything, you know, we, like, you know weíre in Jersey. You can tell, like that weíre East Coast with all the characters on the show. Especially with Lenny Clarkeís accent, you know that weíre somewhere on the East Coast and hopefully, you know, his accentís very (much) New Jersey but you definitely get a vibe of East Coast on our show. Other than that, you know, we reference, like being Mets fans and, you know, hating the Yankees and being Boston fans and stuff, but other than that, we donít really stress too much where it is. But you definitely get, like that kind of comfortable, homey, like, you know, East Coast vibe, which I personally love.
Q) How much did you have to scale back and censor because itís a network show? I mean, are you allowed to say kaslopis and stuff like that?
Laura: Yes we have someone on set, you know, when weíre shooting. And sometimes weíll get away with, you know, a certain word. Like last Friday we - when I read it Iím like, thereís no way weíre going to get away with that. And we did it for the first take and then our Standards and Practices, sheís a lovely, lovely lady. She Urban Dictionary viewed it and it was like, no you canít say that. So then we had to change it. But, you know, sheís very understanding. They've gotten a little more relaxed with us because itís all, you know, in the name of, you know, weíre just being funny and having a good time. But it honestly, it depends. Audiences are way more mature now. You know, I feel like they can handle a lot more than they used to. So I feel like weíre getting away with a lot more than we probably would have, you know, five or six years ago.