Exclusive

Exclusive: Chelsea Handler's New NBC Sitcom Cuts Three Castmembers in Overhaul

The cast of Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea — Chelsea Handler’s new semi-autobiographical NBC sitcom — could probably use a stiff drink right about now.

Sources confirm to me exclusively that nearly half of the show’s ensemble — including White Collar alum Natalie Morales, onetime ER nurse Angel Laketa Moore and Chelsea Lately staple Jo Koy — have been let go.

A spokesperson for the show confirmed that the trio would not be moving forward with the series for creative reasons. Their characters are currently being reconceived.

Slated to premiere at midseason, Vodka is inspired by Handler’s best-selling comic memoir; That ’70s Show‘s Laura Prepon is staying put in the title role. Morales was set to play Chelsea’s best friend, while Moore and Koy co-starred as her sports bar coworkers.

You can see the three of them in action in the show’s original trailer below.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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130 Comments
  1. dsadgfasgf says:

    awww i liked Natalie morelas!!!

    • Bernice says:

      I hope it doesn’t get awkward between Jo and Chelsea

      • heather says:

        Wow, the trailer looks like a real stinker, the only funny lines were the ones Chelsea herself had, which I bet she wrote herself. It actually was a smart move firing half the cast, at least that shows the network knows it isn’t funny and needs a major overhaul before premiering.

        • Deg says:

          wow… people really give Chelsea a pass, while ripping everyone else… Chelsea’s ‘acting’ is awful, she laughs/smiles while waiting to deliver and while delivering ALL her lines. It’s bad.

          • Dax says:

            Um…you guys know that’s not Chelsea in the show right? The actress *playing* Chelsea is Laura Pepperon.

          • heather says:

            Um… you know that it’s Chelsea Handler in a wig playing “Chelsie’s” sister right?

        • Colin says:

          Actually, I read the script and the lines are pretty funny. It was in my top three that I read this year and the only one of them to go to series. Hopefully, when you can see the actual scenes you’ll be able to tell that it’s really pretty good writing. Dottie Dartland wrote it if I remember correctly and she’s damned good.

      • Lot says:

        I heard Jo Koy got canned b/c he was doing a very homophobic comedy routine, and NBC brass wasn’t feeling it.

        • Cheryl says:

          This is the first I have heard about Jo Koy being fired. If the writers had him playing a homophobic, then they should have changed his lines, not him! He is so funny he would have been great no matter who his character was. I wish he would return to Chelsea Lately, or any where on tv.

      • arkpuppies says:

        I thought that things have been awkward between Chelsea and Jo Koy for awhile. She attacks him on her show and won’t let him deliver is jokes all of the time. Ever since John Stamos said that Jo Koy was his favorite. I think she’s jealous.

        • Cheryl says:

          I know that she made fun of him about being gay (which he is not), but I just thought it was part of the comedy. Otherwise, I didn’t see her treating him any differently than her other comics.

      • Cheryl says:

        Boy, where have I been? I know he has not been on the show but just thought he was busy with the new show. I agree, I hope they get along and hope he returns to the show.

      • Cheryl says:

        Boy, where have I been? I know he has not been on the show but just thought he was busy with the new show. I agree and hope they get along and he will return to the show.

    • Steven says:

      That’s ok! Now they can bring her back to Parks and Rec!

    • Mikaylah says:

      I really like Natalie Moralas too! It seems whenever she gets cast lately, the part eventually goes away… :(

    • FHL says:

      Me, too! Loved her since The Middleman!

      • frosty says:

        Man I still need to watch that.

        • Ace says:

          Netflixing the Middleman DVDs would be a better use of your time than watching “…It’s Me Chelsea.” That show rocked so hard. (And when is Matt Keeslar going to be back on my TV?)

        • XK says:

          The Middleman was a great, fun, quirky little show that should have lasted a lot longer than it did.

          • Mr. Wolf says:

            Loved “The Middleman” and the comic it was based on. Too bad it was cancelled and recycled as “Warehouse 13.” Which I also love. God, I’m so weak.

      • Mark says:

        Me too! totally loved Natalie on the Middleman

      • Chatty says:

        Yes! The Middleman was a terrific show that should have never been cancelled; good to know other people miss it too. Poor Natalie. She got cast in White Collar, but that didn’t work out, and now she’s let go of this show. Of course, that’s probably a blessing in disguise. Still, I feel bad for her. She truly is funny and deserves a good show.

    • Laliar says:

      Moi aussi, Natalie is such a terrific actress. She was subdued on Parks and Recs though, and in the clip she’s not her usual erudite self. I like the shows premise, they didn’t need the two extra best buds for Prepon’s character. The bald dude and the zany roommate are plenty; the roommate especially looks like a scene stealer; I’m wondering if she’s based on the tween girl on SNL who idolizes her mother.

  2. scooterbeanbag says:

    This show wasn’t even on my list of potential possibilities, so it has no effect on me. Carry on…

  3. Chris Halarewich says:

    “— could probably could use a” – monus second could ;)

  4. Cash says:

    Sounds like they realized they paid good money for a complete turd. The cast wasn’t the problem, the show itself was. Way to punish them for a bad concept and horrible writing though NBC, that’s exactly what I expect from you no matter who is holding your reins.

    • Colin says:

      I sooo object to your comment. This script was among the funniest this season. Way better than any of the single camera, awkward pause-fests currently running like “Parks and Rec.” This script had actual jokes that hit.

      • Lois says:

        The script may have been funny, but judging from the clip, the humor didn’t translate to the screen. That clip was not funny in any way.

        • Exactly says:

          Agreed. I think the lines that were funny in the clip were said by Handler herself, and I think Prepon is in over her head. I wish they would have scrapped Prepon and kept the others. It would probably be a good idea for NBC to reimagine this show to start at midseason rather than try to kick it off in September whereby at least half of their episodes should already be in post production…

          • boney says:

            “Prepon” not only excels at comedy, she can hold her own as an actress. Chelsea is witty, but perhaps her material won’t translate into a sitcom very well. I am optimistic until proven otherwise*

  5. Kirsty says:

    Absolutely love Chelsea Handler and loved her book. Love After Lately as well. Was looking forward to this show until the casting of Laura Prepon. Not a fan of hers and her in the starring role has definitely put me off watching. Will still give it a chance but can’t exactly see this show doing well to be honest.

    • Jacob says:

      Random casting makes no sense. She doesn’t even look or act like Chelsea. Oh right, I forgot, she /can’t/ act.

    • NickC says:

      So let me get this straight…the funny beautiful Laura Prepon is going to play Chelsea Handler?????…WTF?..Prepon is way too hot/young/Funny for the role.

    • jenna says:

      I agree. I’m not a laura fan, I might tune in for an episode or 2 but i’m really not a fan of that casting decision

    • Ang says:

      Yup, should have recast Prepon. She was the weakest link of That 70s Show. She just isn’t funny.

    • Lois says:

      I’m a fan of Chelsea Lately, and had hopes for this new show. But judging by the clip it looks bad. Laura Prepon was the weakest in the cast, so why are they getting rid of the other actors and not her?

  6. Roddric says:

    This is very disappointing news. Yet, NBC has the slogan “more colorful”. Ironic much?

  7. Jahn says:

    So, the show just fired the 3 actors of color? Sad but typical.

    • mamaLarson3 says:

      This is the first thing I thought of, too. Could they make themselves look any worse?

    • christy says:

      get over yourself…just because they happen to be minorities, does not make this a racially motivated move. stop trying to be so PC

      • AC says:

        No one’s claiming it was racially motivated — it’s not like someone came in and said “Dang, this show needs to be whiter!” — but it DOES seem a bit… I don’t know… insensitive? Unthinking? I’m just surprised it din’t occur to the network brass that it would look bad.

  8. Dan says:

    Now if only they could get rid of Laura Prepon.

    Comedian Bill Dawes said something about Jo Koy being fired because of comments he made to an audience member, do you know anything about that?

  9. Cameron says:

    I have to admit that I’m beginning to feel that NBC is feeling the pressure for it’s new shows. Sounds like they don’t have the confidence in their schedule now they see the cards the other networks have in their hands. I bet they pull “The Voice” a lot earlier into the season because their reality TV may be the only thing to save them from another dismal upcoming season. Man, I hate reality TV -but it’s been NBC’s life-preserver. But once “Chuck” is gone -I don’t think there is anything on NBC that I will be watching.

    • dan says:

      Smash looks great. Their fall schedule won’t be a complete dud.

    • frosty says:

      You must not be a fan of comedy.
      Because they air four of the best comedies on Thursday night, The Office,Parks and Recreation,30 Rock and Community.
      And if those shows had been on any other network they would not have made it to a second season, so show some respect.
      And I hope to add ”Up All Night” to that list.

      But yeah Chuck is the only hour long show I watch on the network, and they were also quite nice about Chuck, they let it stay. Though it is ending, but 5 seasons is a long run. So NBC isn’t all bad..

      • Carrie says:

        “Up All Night” looks great- I’m hopeful that the Arnett-Poehler household will have two of the funniest shows on tv next season.

        • bill says:

          Will Arnett is the kiss of death. How many bombs can one man have and still get work? Really. I know the pseudo-hip crowd in Hollywood loves him to death but the other 6 billion people living on the planet can’t stand his weasly arse.

          • Mr. Wolf says:

            I am SO glad someone else said this. I like snarky, quirky comedy a lot, but Will Arnett is just not funny except in small doses. Tolerable on “Arrested Development” and “30 Rock,” but not as a lead. Like fish and uninvited guests, he stinks when he is around for too long.

  10. TV Gord says:

    This reminds me of when Rachel Dratch was chopped from 30 Rock. She and Tina are still cool. It’s business. Business is business. (And it’s probably not Chelsea’s call, considering how you relinquish so much control when a show starts taking on too many cooks.)

    • frosty says:

      Well this show is certainly no 30 Rock.

    • Summer says:

      Wasn’t there a bit of a strain on their relationship for awhile? Between Dratch and Fey, I mean. They ended up reconciling, but for awhile, I heard rumours that things weren’t so great between them after Dratch was replaced by Jane Krakowski.

      • Lois says:

        NBC, not Tina, replaced Rachel with Jane. After Rachel was replaced, Tina still found a way to have Rachel on most episodes that first season as other characters.

  11. Jacob says:

    As much as I love Handler, that trailer was horrid. She was the only good thing about it… playing… her sister? What?
    I just don’t see Handler’s life as a sitcom. Comdey, sure, but… not laugh tracked.

    • Jacob says:

      *comedy. Spell fail.

      Oh, and I’ll add, I was hoping this show would feel more like 30 Rock, not Sh*t my Dad Says.

  12. Alexis says:

    Feel bad for those that were let go, but not surprising. It happens. I really liked Natalie Morales on White Collar and was kind of annoyed when she randomly disappeared…not sure if I’ll be watching this or not, but more likely not.

    • frosty says:

      She was only there until Marsha Thomason could come back.
      Morales on Parks and Rec = so much better than her character on White Collar anyways.
      Love both shows, and i hope she returns to Parks and Rec.

  13. RikerDonegal says:

    LOVE Natalie Morales (and Laura Prepon, for that matter) but that show looks generic and uninteresting from the promo. Sigh :(

  14. P says:

    I like the concept but judging from the trailer the show really needed some reworking!

  15. Matt Webb Mitovich says:

    Coach Bieste!

  16. Babygate says:

    After watching the trailer I really had no interest at all in this show. It wasn’t funny and the acting was terrible. Particularly Chelsea herself with that ugly, ugly wig. She should cut herself out of the show as well.

    • Erin Vogler says:

      I agree i saw the trailer and her acting was really bad, her lines were too dry, at least the way she delivered them. The joke about the ex-boyfriend went on way too long and it just did not flow right. I am a huge fan of Chelsea but she should just stick to what she has going on now which is a ton of stuff..her books are so funny I finish them in a day, her show cracks me up but this looks like a train wreck waiting to happen. I do hope I am wrong because I don’t wish ill upon anybody..Lord knows she does not need to do this for the money, if it is bad hope they pull it off air before it really can ruin the great things that she has going now..

  17. Sharona says:

    Natalie Morales was the only reason I was considering watching this- guess I can definitely skip it now!

    • MelindaB says:

      As much as I like Natalie Morales, not even she was incentive for me to watch. I’d rather just re-watch The Middleman (actually, I’d rather have new episodes, but I’ll take what I have.)

  18. Maddy says:

    It’s not a good sign when they fire half the cast before the show even airs.

    • Rowan says:

      This happens all the time. Focus groups did not like the three ladies so they got cut. Focus groups are wrong about 95% of the time, yet networks continue to use them like they’re a crystal ball.

  19. Andrea says:

    Oh no! I love Jo Koy on Chelsea Lately. I really hope this is not something that causes a rift between them!!!!

  20. Danielle Verga says:

    Ugh. That video was HORRIBLE. The show is unwatchable.

  21. jw79bull says:

    Hmm they get rid of the Asian and Black women..i guess NBC figured it had enough minorities on tv this seas…

  22. frosty says:

    I was only going to watch for Natalie Morales, maybe she will come back to Parks and Rec now! xD

  23. Jason says:

    Stop reworking the show. Simply do not air it. Please.

  24. Rob J. says:

    Seems to me that what the show really needs to do is recast the lead character, not everybody else.

  25. CF says:

    “White Collar alum Natalie Morales”? Wasn’t she only a third tier character for half a season?

    Middleman!!!

  26. LA says:

    This show’s not going to last four episodes.

  27. Eric says:

    I think the only thing worse than being forced off of this show is having to stay on it.

  28. Sean says:

    Did anyone else notice the horrid laugh track? I know its a trailer and it may just seemed forced, but it reminded me of when family guy makes fun of sitcoms and puts in a laugh track. I like Chelsea, but this sitcom doesn’t seem good at all.

  29. chloe says:

    Now they need to fire Chelsea and cancel the show.

  30. scott says:

    Anybody that has watched the preview should know that this show will be lucky to make it to the end of the season. They need to sell it to a cable channel that let’s them be raunchy for it to be watchable, basically give it more of a “it’s always sunny” vibe.

    • DavidJMiller says:

      They’re making it racy but not edgy, you can’t have it both ways. It looks better than Whitney though which isn’t saying much. Chelsea shouldn’t deliver her lines while smiling which is pretty bad but the lines themselves are okay. Up All Night looks average and “The New Girl” on Fox has a ton of potential but they’re going to mess it up by being too PC. Hopefully NBC is learning this lesson from Paul Ryser Show where he was fine but all the supporting cast, (except his wife) were terrible.

  31. JonYo says:

    I was considering giving this show a chance to catch Natalie Morales on it, but now that she’s off, forget it. I’m thinking that maybe she dodged a bullet by getting released from her contract, leaving her free to pursue non-sucking projects.

  32. Rasha says:

    I just watched the trailer, and they should probably let Laura Prepon go. I’m not sure if it’s her voice or what, but she’s never been a good actor to me.

    • Miffy says:

      Amen – Laura Prepon is an awful actress, with all those lines delivered in that monotone. It’s like she went to the Tina Yothers School of Acting.

      As for Natalie Morales: at least she has the Today Show to fall back on.

    • psychoanalyzer says:

      I actually don’t mind her voice, but I think she’d be better suited for drama. She’s not that funny, and she just seems out of place. I could never believe her as Chelsea Handler. And I honestly don’t think she looks very good as a blonde either. The trailer looks awful.

  33. Sourabh says:

    I normally have very low expectations from TV shows, but even I think this show looks horrible.

  34. alfie says:

    wow… the lead character is not funny at all… i’m sorry, but I think she’s the one who should be fired…
    but, the roommate is funny though..

  35. Josh says:

    Why that trailer was pretty bad.

  36. stephen says:

    Is it intentional on NBC’s part that the lead character on this sitcom looks and sounds exactly like Lindsay Lohan? And the entire show seems based on the fact that she has a drinking problem and appears to be confined to her new apartment. Just asking.

  37. Red Beard says:

    Good call on Koy, he’s not funny. He would’ve been a drain on the show, however, after watching that extremely looooooooong clip, I’m not sure there is anything that could save it. I love Chelsea Handler and her show, but this sitcom looks terrible.

  38. Didn’t Koy get let go do to something he said on stage during one of his stand-up routines? If that is the case, then that is really sad…shenanigans….I declare Shenanigans on that!

  39. CJ says:

    I’ve seen the full pilot and Lauren Lapkus aka Dee Dee was the funniest part of the whole show. If she stays, it will be okay. As for Koy, he didn’t have much of a role, so it’s not a huge loss.

  40. Mark says:

    I realize they’re trying to bolster the fact that their lead is–at best–only mildly funny. But really, they would do better to just recast the lead because there’s little other people can do to make handler looks better when her schtick is as tired as it is.

  41. Justin says:

    This literally looks like the worst show ever.

    • Rick G says:

      I was just thinking the same thing. It plays like a parody of a really, really bad sitcom from the ’80s… but it turns out to just be a really, really bad sitcom from the… um… nows.

      They need to chuck this whole thing. It’s horrific. I think Laura Prepon’s adorable, and I generally like her, but this is a train wreck.

  42. Nick says:

    Natalie Morales… NOOOO! I love her. The girl deserved a breakout role the will make her a household name. Her agent should find her something better to do. She needs to be recognized with a talent like hers.

    As for the show, I don’t know now. I guess I need to see the final pilot before I say anything.

  43. Tim says:

    Jo Koy is a remarkably unfunny comedian. He is a one-trick pony who relies on exaggerated and stereotypical impressions that sometimes cross over to being racist. The dude is incapable of telling a joke. He is among the least talented guests on “Chelsea Lately.”

    I don’t want a “Benetton” cast. I want a FUNNY cast.

  44. Erin says:

    From the looks of that horrendous trailer, anyone who was let go is dodging a bullet!

  45. Summer says:

    Natalie Morales needs another starring role of her own. She was fantastic on The Middleman, and its criminal that ABC Family cancelled that as fast as they did. It’s better than a lot of what they’ve had on. Here’s hoping she finds something amazing, or gets a new agent who can actually get her the work that she deserves.

  46. ozbu says:

    So happy to read this. Chelsea Handler is a total hack comic if you can call her a comic. Basically she stole her cable show by sleeping with the boss. The premise of this sitcom sucks. Why? Because Chelsea Handler can’t produce anything funny except regurgitating her own alcoholic life. Good luck with that.

  47. Lois says:

    NBC cut a Latina, African-American, and an Asian-American from the cast. I’ll wager that at least 2 of those roles will be recast with white performers.

    NBC: Nothing But Caucasians

  48. Am says:

    WOW!! That looks terrible! If there is going to be a sitcom about Chelsea Handler, it needs to be on cable so it can be raunchy. Laura Prepon is NOT funny and it is crazy that anyone would cast her in this role! Also, it’s a stupid idea to have Chelsea play her sister, either play yourself or stay off of the show! NBC is trying to cash in on Chelsea’s new found popularity but I think they are going to find out it is just not the right fit for network.

  49. Tom Mc says:

    The ONLY reason to watch this show is Laura Prepon. You commenters need to get your facts straight.

  50. Gray says:

    Wow, a 4 plus minute clip and I only slightly grinned at the last two seconds. This was bad. Was this only designed for chicks to get the humor? How are they going to convince someone that this is funny when they do those upfront interviews. his won’t get past the first season and smells like it will be cancelled quickly but if they retool it, maybe it’ll get better. If not, i don’t see anybody investing too much time with this show if this is the level of comedy that they are presenting.

    • maggie says:

      If you actually read the comments that are from “chicks” you’ll see that we “chicks” didn’t find this funny either.

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