What Happened to Chelsea Handler's Vodka?

The titular spirit of the comedian's book disappears from the title of the spin-off sitcom, and the explanations seem forced.

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The name of Chelsea Handler's book is Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. The name of the sitcom spin-off, in which Handler stars for NBC, is "Are You There, Chelsea?"

But the comedian insists the show's title wasn't changed for what The Washington Post's TV columnist Lisa de Moraes obviously thinks is the reason: that NBC didn't actually want the name of a type of liquor in the title of its show about a wise-cracking, hard-drinking lead character.

And Handler herself, de Moraes noted this weekend, isn't exactly keeping her story straight about the name change.

On a press call late last year, it was the network's squeamishness that was to blame:

In December, on an NBC-arranged phone conference call with reporters, bloggers, and such, Handler was asked about the change and explained, “you can’t put ‘vodka’ in the title for network purposes, so I thought ‘Are You There, Chelsea?’ was a funny play on the fact that I’m not playing myself.”

Fast forward a month, and spin had set in. The real reason for the name change, Handler now insists, is deference to the diverse tastes of potential viewers:  "Not everybody likes vodka, unbeknownst to me,” is the star's newest explanation.

De Moraes ensures that readers note her own skepticism of this explanation.

“So it had nothing to do with NBC not wanting to maybe promote drinking a bit too much in the title of the show? Because it was originally announced as the full [book] title...last spring,” the reporter persevered.

At which point Handler said that ‘Are you There, Chelsea?’ is a play on ‘What am I thinking?’ and added, “This is not cable – it’s [broadcast] network. We wanted to have a broader appeal and make people feel like they could be interested in watching the show, whether or not they have as big of a drinking problem as I do.”

So, squeamishness, then. As explained in the first place.

Just watch what you say about Serbia, please.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.