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Chelsea Handler on Why She Went to Netflix: 'I Want to Grow Up' (Video)

Handler, known as a naked sensation on Instagram, has switched to Twitter, "because they don’t have a problem with nudity.”

Asa Mathat

After comedian and author Chelsea Handler left “Chelsea Lately,” her seven-year-old late-night show on E! Entertainment television, she took three months off. She read books, and tried to stay away from social media. And she contemplated not coming back to entertainment, she said in an interview today.

“I went on this vacation as soon as I ended my show on E! and I had three months off, and I could have been off forever,” Handler told Re/code’s Kara Swisher and Peter Kafka during the Code/Media conference at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, Calif.

“I don’t want to have to read the New York Post, or pick up a Star magazine to read about Bruce Jenner — I don’t care,” Handler said. “I don’t care, and I can say that, and I’m allowed to be honest about it.”

Handler compared her experience at E! to being in junior high, with “people running around, throwing food, making jokes about celebrities that are stupid. And I’m so much smarter than that show was, and I wanted to be on a show that was smarter than I was.”

Which is why Handler and a team of executives at Netflix are taking a year to think up a brand-new show format for Handler, one that will begin airing — or streaming — in 2016.

So why Netflix, and what does she want this show to be?

“We don’t have a clear idea of what my talk show will be like in 2016,” Handler said, “but I know what I don’t want to do and what I do want to do. I don’t want it to be just my audience that was at E!. I want to grow up.”

Asa Mathat

Handler said she would like the show to include a “healthy mix of everything going on in the world,” ranging from global news, such as conflict in the Middle East, to human-interest stories closer to home. “I want correspondents going out in the field, getting information. And I don’t necessarily need it to be the same thing. It could be three nights a week. We have a lot of conversations about it.”

While Handler (and Netflix) aren’t sure exactly what it will entail, one thing is clear: Handler and Netflix are clearly in a kind of honeymoon phase.

“Netflix is so exciting to me for a bevy of reasons,” Handler said, gushing that the company is “super involved” in the show. “The way they conduct themselves, the way they get behind a process.”

One example of Netflix’s backing of the sometimes-raunchy comedian: Upon her return from vacation, Handler said, she was driving down the highway and was greeted by a series of billboards promoting her “Uganda Be Kidding Me” special for Netflix, which launched last fall. (Handler is currently scheduled to produce four documentary specials for Netflix in 2015.)

“I had no idea they were doing that. I had no idea they even had this marketing plan,” Handler said.

Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos has said in earlier interviews that the goal is to make a show “that’s built closer to the way people are going to watch it,” since TV viewers are increasingly watching nighttime programming not live, but later on the Web.

And speaking of digital media, Handler spoke openly about her clash with Instagram over topless photos she posted in jest late last year.

“I wasn’t trying to look fantastic, that’s just a by-product,” she joked. “I’m also not trying to sexualize myself. I was in Chile, and my cousin and I were riding a horse, and I said, ‘Let’s make fun of that Putin photo where he’s topless!’ So my cousin put [the photos] side by side with an app, because I’m a Luddite when it comes to tech, and then she said, ‘Oh my God, your picture was removed.'”

“Why?” Handler said. “He’s topless. Is it because I have nipples? Is it because they’re bigger? Because there’s meat around them? … So I thought, that’s such a silly thing to do. And not long after, Kim Kardashian showed her whole naked body and her whole ass and — she’s a mother! I’m not a mother.”

Still, Handler said she took some pleasure in the notion that Instagram had to consciously decide to remove the photo: “I’m sure there were discussions within the walls of Instagram, which also gives me a thrill, that they had to sit there and talk about my ass.”

About her experience with Instagram, she added: “Twitter’s my new best friend, because I went from Twitter to Instagram, and Twitter seemed a little bit older, and then I went back to Twitter because they don’t have a problem with nudity.”

Handler has also been taking the temperature of Silicon Valley — or “Silicone Valley,” as she mistakenly called it, until Netflix’s Reed Hastings corrected her — and may incorporate some of these segments into her upcoming docs.

“What I love about Silicon Valley is the energy. You walk into these offices and everybody’s working on something,” she said.

“Well,” she mused, “they do seem to play ping-pong a lot.”

Here are some video highlights of the conversation:

This article originally appeared on

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