Earlier this week Chelsea Handler, 39, announced through her manager that she will leave her show Chelsea Lately, at the end of her contract. Though her manager Irving Azoff suggested that there were several irons in the fire and that Chelsea has lots of options. Many were surprised nonetheless to hear the magnitude of the Chelsea Handler collaborative project with sometime arch-enemy Joan Rivers to develop their project to seek greater recognition for what they have begun calling the American School of Snark. Azoff acknowledged, that though the project had been in the works for months, he was overjoyed over the fact that all of the financing came through and the construction of the Snark Academy could go ahead.
Handler has been well-known, like her new BFF Joan Rivers, for her ongoing feuds with other celebrities. In private they have allegedly both admitted to friends that verbal riposte and claw flexing are what gets them up in the morning. Reached for comment after a publicity event, Joan Rivers explained that the Snark Academy would be repertory and would define an American dramatic tradition, as the Actor’s Studio did. “It’s a totally American thing. We say whatever we want to people and spar and everybody loves us.” In response to fumbling over the title Snark Academy, misread as Shark Academy by an older emcee, Rivers said: “Oh yes, that works, too. I’ve always felt I like a little cold-blood in my veins. I’m just a friendly, happy shark, though.” When prompted, Rivers said she really considered herself a very dignified person, and thought she most resembled Eleanor Roosevelt from the past; she thought from the present day she resembled Dame Helen Mirren, especially in her role as Jane Tennyson in the Prime Suspect shows. When asked, Handler said she thought she had the free spirit of that character, whose name she could not remember (Louise Bryant) from “that Reds movie.” Handler said she modeled herself on Diane Keaton, and said that she felt she had the ingenue quality of Keaton.
A the beginning of March, Handler appeared to have burned her bridges with E! On the Howard Stern show, she made fun of the network: “It’s a sad, sad place to live.” She continued, “They don’t know what they’re doing. They have no ideas. It’s a failure.” Howard had also previously gotten Rivers to give up some choice bits of friendly joshing directed at Handler before their reconciliation. In describing Chandler’s rise to the top while dating Ted Herbert, CEO of Comcast, Rivers said fondly, that Handler was just an ordinary girl without special talent, getting to the top: “With the help of a close buddy,” as she explained delicately. Recently in conjunction with the School of Snark project, Rivers backpedaled from earlier comments: where she had said that Handler was mean to some kids, and that she was unsure if she could be close to someone who did not have respect for others.
Both Chelsea Handler and Joan Rivers have histories of going out of bounds, but have gotten past it for the sake of American School of Snark, and they enjoy the moments of making up. Handler said that there were so many things she liked about Matt Lauer: “I don’t know how things got weird on the Today Show with him. I guess we were just joking about male newscasters “p**ping their pants” on the air. But it was just good fun.” Handler professed special feelings of closeness following their last reconciliation.
Handler said she had learned some sensitivity, and realized it was the suggestion that Lauer was p**ping all over a certain person everyday that made it rude. The NBC brass apparently told her to back off Lauer, and that it really bothered him. It was a life-changing moment for her, as Chelsea Handler described it: “I finally knew that I really had a higher purpose, to make up with Joan Rivers and start the American School of Snark, the Snark Academy and the Snark Foundation to support those mean girls and their aspirations, to get that talent out of the back of the bus and onto stage.”
Satire by Lawrence Shapiro