The $25 million two-year deal that Chelsea Handler just chalked with the E! network says something about the enterprising queen of late-night TV talk. She sure knows how to negotiate.
Last month, when I interviewed Handler on stage at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, she was in the middle of negotiating with NBC Universal's (CMCSA) E!--playing hardball, dropping hints that she might leave for a rival network.
When I asked her for her best negotiating tips, here's what she said:
"I don't listen to anyone or any advice because I know exactly what I want and how I want it."
And when an agent or a manager says, 'You can't ask for that...that's not done," what does Handler say? "Well, why don't you go ask?!"
"And then you get it," she said, instructing the MPW audience: "You have to ask for what you want. Just because there are parameters that have been set doesn't mean they can't be blown open."
For what it's worth (that is, $25 million), Handler's new contract with E! calls for her to continue to be host and executive producer of Chelsea Lately through 2014 and develop other projects through her company, Borderline Amazing Productions. Handler's company produces her After Lately, a spinoff show, as well as Chelsea Lately, which is the most-watched late-night talk show among female viewers, 18 to 34.
An increasingly valuable franchise at NBC Universal, Handler is, in addition to her E! deal, executive producing and appearing in Are You There, Chelsea?, a sitcom based on one of her best sellers, Are you There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea. The show will premiere on January 11.
Of course, a stand-up comic does not turn herself into a multi-media brand without rewarding the folks who helped her along the way. To celebrate her E! deal, Handler decided to give $1,000 cash to each of 138 staffers.
Yes, she is generous--and cunning too. "I probably shouldn't say this," Handler told me at the MPW Summit, going on to explain how she sometimes uses her staffers as negotiating bait to get sweet deals for herself. Here's Handler on her ultimate negotiating tip...
"If Twitter is the telephone, we're the conversation."
That comment was a highlight of Fortune Brainstorm Tech's "Future of Television" discussion on Thursday—even though the person who said it wasn't in the room.
No offense to the panelists on stage: Disney (DIS) Media Networks co-chair Anne Sweeney, CBS (CBS) exec Nancy Tellem, and NBC Universal's (CMCSA) Lauren Zalaznick. But the remark--which moderator Jason Hirschhorn said former MTV Networks (VIA) CEO Judy McGrath MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 22, 2011 11:35 AM ET
by Patricia Sellers
If you're a TV fan or any sort of media maven, check out this story about NBC Universal's (GE) study of viewer emotions toward the most-watched shows of the past 50 years.
NBCU surveyed some 3,500 heavy TV watchers and asked what emotions they felt viewing each program. Lauren Zalaznick, President of NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, presented the findings, with cool moving graphics, at the TEDWomen MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 22, 2010 2:40 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
What time did you get up this morning?
Not as early as the crew on NBC's Today, I bet.
Yesterday at 30 Rock, NBC Universal's (GE) headquarters, Nightly News anchor Brian Williams connected with his inner Robin Williams (he's almost as funny, though drier) and, before an audience of media writers and other television-industry watchers, queried the hosts of MSNBC's Morning Joe, CNBC's Squawk Box, and Today.
Matt Lauer sets his MOREPatricia Sellers - Sep 24, 2010 10:01 AM ET
Conan has made it clear that he has no interest in having his Tonight Show bumped to 12:05 am to make room for Jay Leno at 11:35. (And wouldn't that make it the Tomorrow Show, anyway?)
That's an ultimatum for NBC Universal (GE) CEO Jeff Zucker who must now (quickly)decide either to keep Conan in the slot he was promised or watch him jump to another network -- probably News Corp.'s Fox (NWSA).
Turns MOREPatricia Sellers - Jan 13, 2010 9:36 AM ET
As I told you on Friday, there's apparently no truth to the rumors that NBC Universal (GE) exec Lauren Zalaznick, who built Bravo and oversees Oxygen and more there, has been negotiating for a top job at MTV (VIAB).
After the Postcard ran, Jim Citrin, the prominent Spencer Stuart recruiter who was spotted lunching with Zalaznick at Michael's (and thus fed the rumor mill, unintentionally) popped me an email. "Too funny," MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 14, 2009 12:23 PM ET
Rumors are spreading across the Internet that NBC Universal executive Lauren Zalaznick is headed to MTV.
"There is absolutely no truth to these rumors," says Cameron Blanchard, SVP of communications for NBCU's Women & Lifestyle Entertainment Networks--the unit, including the Bravo network, that Zalaznick oversees.
The response from Viacom (VIAB), MTV's owner: "There's no truth to the rumors," Carole Robinson, EVP of communications for MTV Networks, told me this morning.
How did the MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 11, 2009 1:57 PM ET
With Comcast (CMCSA) finalizing its deal to buy 51% of NBC Universal from General Electric (GE), skeptics are asking: Why would Comcast CEO Brian Roberts put his faith in Jeff Zucker, the NBCU chief who has dragged the NBC broadcast network from first to fourth place?
Because Jeff Zucker is one of the most determined, driven, ambitious, ingenious, competitive, compelling, resilient people you will ever meet.
Read "Life imitates TV," a Fortune MOREPatricia Sellers - Dec 3, 2009 1:15 PM ET
by Patricia Sellers
I told you that NBC Universal (GE) is decorating its "Green is Universal" eco-campaign this week with a strange but cool art project inside 30 Rock. An environmental muralist named Tom Deininger spent all afternoon yesterday inside Studio 8H--the home of Saturday Night Live--with 300-plus inner-city school kids and NBC staffers building a massive wall relief completely out of trash.
That's right. 100% garbage. Used cue cards from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Old cassette tapes MOREPatricia Sellers - Nov 19, 2009 12:58 PM ET
While the top execs at NBC Universal (GE) are consumed with closing their deal to merge into Comcast (CMCSA), they've found a little time to do some good for the planet. You can't miss this week's "Green is Universal" campaign if you watch CNBC (featuring Green Stocks to Watch) or the Tonight Show (Jay Leno races eco-friendly cars in the Ford (F) Green Car Challenge) or Top Chef, where MOREPatricia Sellers - Nov 18, 2009 12:11 PM ET
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