Chelsea Handler‘s book of stories about her ’20s, “Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea,” was wildly successful, so it’s no surprise that it was revamped into a television show. The strange thing is the show’s title. Originally pitched as matching the book’s title, it’s now been shortened to the mostly nonsensical “Are You There, Chelsea?”
At Television Critics Association’s press tour on Friday (Jan. 6), cast members and producers from the series stopped by to speak with reporters about the series, beginning Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. EST on NBC.
When the name was addressed, there was plenty of hemming and hawing.
“Some people like beer. Not everybody likes vodka,” said Laura Prepon, who plays Handler on the series.
Handler — who plays her sister in a special guest starring role — added, “Unbeknownst to me. I just found that out.”
Ultimately, Handler admitted that the network wanted to remove the reference to alcohol from the show’s title. “It’s not cable, it’s network. We wanted a broader appeal,” she says, adding that the network hopes that the show can appeal to people “whether or not they have as big a drinking problem” as she does. “Not everybody is into alcohol as much as I am.”
Given the fact that the show opens with Chelsea in jail for a DUI, the broad appeal may be in jeopardy from the get-go. (For the record, Handler would like everyone to know that she only got one DUI in real life.)
It’s not the only name change going on — Handler plays her sister, Sloane, but her real sister’s name is not actually Sloane. “We had to change the name for legal reasons so my own family can’t sue me.”