Chelsea Handler: Too Hot to Handle?

She's funny, she's irreverent, she's blond -- and she wants a date with you at 11:30 every night.

But with a host of established men dominating the late-night comedy circuit, it's going to take more than good looks and charm for Chelsea Handler to wrangle an audience.

Handler's show, "Chelsea Lately," premieres July 16 on the E! network. The 32-year-old comedian and author will be going head-to-head with household names like David Letterman, Jon Stewart and Jay Leno, for whom she used to work as a "Tonight Show" correspondent.

How does she feel about being the lone woman in an arena of men?

"I have two very meaty breasts," she said. "And I'm not going to let that hold me back."

Breasts aside, Handler doesn't think she's competing with the rest of the late-night comics. On her show, celebrities aren't respected, they're cut down.

"I really want to do a different take on the celebrity interview," she said. "The last thing I want to see is Nicole Kidman talking about what movie she's going to be in. I want to talk to Nicole Kidman's neighbor about what's going on with Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban when he's pretending not to drink."

Handler's guests aren't the typical talk show favorites: Dennis Hof, owner of Nevada's Moonlite BunnyRanch brothel, is one of her first. Handler said she's not interested in helping anyone promote a movie or show. Instead, like the televised version of a Hollywood gossip blog, she wants to reveal the dark side of stars.

"It's focusing on what people want to know, not what stars want people to know," she said. " I want to get the inside scoop on things."

Bucking Gender Bias and PR Spin

In theory, a show that gets stars to talk about their failed projects and torrid affairs sounds like TiVo-worthy television. In practice, it's not so easy, according to Bob Thompson, Syracuse University professor of pop culture.

"It's easy to get guests when they're trying to promote a film. It's not going to be nearly as easy to get guests to come when a film has left the theater," he said. "What's their motivation, especially if the film has been a bomb? There are a lot of people who are willing to make fun of themselves, but there are a lot of stars who are not going to be so anxious to do that."

But Handler thinks celebrities will come to her show to take a break from the press tour. Their incentive? A chance to blow off steam and reveal their real personalities with someone who acts more like a drinking buddy than a TV host.

And if they don't want to talk about anything but their upcoming blockbuster? Well, then they're not welcome.

"I feel like it'll be such a breath of fresh air to do an interview when they don't feel like they have to be promoting their project," she said. "It's fun to talk about personal stuff. You do have people that would never do that, and those are people that are never going to be on this show, obviously."

The Joan Rivers Backlash

A tall, lanky blonde who talks as readily about her sex life as she does about the antics of Britney and Lindsay, Handler sticks out from the suit-clad, dry-humored men she's up against like a cheerleader at a young Republicans meeting.

She's not blazing a new trail. Joan Rivers scored her own show after guest-hosting for Johnny Carson in the '80s. But according to Camille Paglia, professor of media studies at Philadelphia's University of the Arts, Rivers' failure in the late-night game means Handler faces an uphill road to success.

"Joan Rivers, when she finally had a chance to do her own show, was just awful. She was too strident, too pushy. She was trying to do the whole thing herself," Paglia said. "There's something about the 'regular guy,' just standing there. He can be silly, he can be childish like women can't."

No doubt, Handler's take on the late-night talk show is unlike anything else on TV. And in all likelihood, her "very meaty breasts" can only help her case. But Paglia said that if Handler tries too hard, she'll turn off viewers.

"The audience becomes unnerved if the woman is too sharp and shrewish. You have to like the person on stage in order to laugh with them, not at them," she said. "I wish Chelsea well, because it's almost a new frontier. It really requires more fine tuning than women have done so far."