Now that it’s true-confession time and we’re blowing her ditzy cover, I have to ask: Is it true, as revealed in a lengthy, substantive, non–Perez Hilton–flagged interview with Katie Couric, that Handler relaxes by watching 60 Minutes and reading F. Scott Fitzgerald? “Right now I’m reading Catherine the Great,” she says cheerfully. “It’s so wonderful!” Comfortable not being a brainiac (“I may not be the smartest person in the room, but I am the quickest”), she does own up to a bookish bent. “It came from my dad,” she says. “Because I was blonde when I was born, even though now it’s not natural, he would always say, ‘Oh my God, I’m very worried about you because you’re so adorable and your personality’s so big.’ So every weekend he would make me read the New York Times and the Boston Globe and the [Newark] Star-Ledger and write current events reports for him. He said, ‘You have to have something else besides your looks.’ ” OK—is there a favorite book that has inspired a life philosophy? Ready answer: “This sounds weird, but The Fountainhead. It’s about truth and not swaying from that. It’s about character and being able to handle conflict and call someone out on their bullshit.”
How does “calling someone out on their bullshit” work in a relationship?
She leans in. “My boyfriend, André [Balazs, hotelier and owner of Chateau Marmont, among other properties]? We just got back together literally yesterday. We had dated for nine months, a long-distance relationship with all the stresses and traveling and running around. It wasn’t a real life; we weren’t living together. So André came to me yesterday and said, ‘I think we have to try to make this work again.’ And I agreed because we’re still madly in love, and he has done a lot of the things I’ve asked him to, and I’ve done a lot of the stuff he’s asked me to.”
Like what? “It’s just a matter of managing and understanding each other better—getting to know what the other person’s needs are and not basing all your behavior on your own desire. Sometimes you don’t want to fly five hours to go see somebody, but sometimes that person needs you there. It’s that kind of selflessness and thoughtfulness . . .”
Pressed for specifics, Handler, uncharacteristically, demurs: “I have no problem with it, but I need to respect his privacy, because he’s not like that.” She takes this opportunity to get up and cadge a snuggle from Balazs, who is lunching with a friend nearby. And as they smooch and chat quietly for a moment, life indeed appears happy and stable for Chelsea Handler. (Nor do any ghosts from the past dog her, as indicated by this wryly affectionate statement from ex-boyfriend and current NBC chairman Harbert, who provides much of the fodder for Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang: “I couldn’t be more thrilled to see Chelsea’s popularity skyrocket as she branches out into movies and new TV projects. Hopefully, this will give her less time to write books that I’m part of.”)
When Handler returns, she dispenses with the idea of children (“I already have nine nieces and nephews, and I give a lot of myself to them”) and soft-pedals the idea of marriage. “I’ve never been proposed to, and I don’t know that that’s in my future,” she says. “I don’t know that I’m marriage material. I don’t know if I would ever want to be someone’s wife. It makes breaking up much more complicated.” But the idea of a wedding featuring a midget with a chip sombrero makes her howl: “It would be funny, it would be funny!”
In terms of the future, Handler is most excited about shifting her work to be “more responsible, brighter, more mindful and to have some real impact. I’m working on starting this foundation for young girls with my sisters to try to help underdogs get a light shone on them; I think that’s really important when you’re growing up—to have somebody remind you that you are special, that you have a gift.” As her mom reminded her? “Yes.”