Explained: Why There’s No ‘Vodka’ in Chelsea Handler’s Sitcom Title

Chelsea Handler in Pasadena Friday (Photo: Getty Images)

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — NBC’s top programming executive insists it wasn’t squeamishness over booze that got the word “vodka” dropped from the television version of Chelsea Handler’s memoir.

Robert Greenblatt said Friday that the 2008 book’s title, “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea,” was just too long. Initially, NBC considered just calling the show “Chelsea” but settled instead on “Are You There, Chelsea?” and it debuts on the network next Wednesday.

“There was no mandate from anyone saying don’t put vodka in the title of the show,” the entertainment president said.

Talk to Handler, though, and that’s not so clear. Handler said in a telephone conference call last month that “although there is plenty of drinking in the show, you can’t have it in the title.”

On Friday, Handler joked that “not everyone is into alcohol as much as I am.” She said that “this is not cable, this is network” and said taking “vodka” out of the title could broaden the appeal of the show to include people who aren’t big drinkers.

Handler has a part-time role in the show. Instead of playing the character Chelsea, she plays her born-again Christian sister. Laura Prepon of “That ’70s Show” portrays Chelsea.

The Chelsea character, described by NBC as a “sexually dynamic advanced drinker,” is jailed for driving under the influence of alcohol early in the show’s history, according to a clip shown to reporters Friday.

“In real life I got a DUI once,” Handler said. “I haven’t gotten one since.”

Handler appears in seven of the 13 episodes ordered by NBC.

Watch a wee bit of “Chelsea Lately” here, with guest Whitney Cummings:
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