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Chelsea Handler stepping down from talk show

(CNN)

(CNN)

(CNN) — Chelsea Handler’s late-night television show on E!, “Chelsea Lately,” will come to a close in August, freeing the comedian to create a different show elsewhere.

The “Chelsea Lately” finale date, August 26, was announced by the cable channel on Wednesday, capping months of speculation about Handler and E!’s plans to split. Her E! contract expires at the end of this year.

In a national late-night field dominated by men, Handler is the only woman with a daily talk show.

“Chelsea Lately” started in July 2007 and gradually became a signature part of the E! lineup. Handler was never shy about criticizing E! on the air or off. And Handler and her representatives have been intimating for a while now that she is ready to leave E! for another television network or for a new outlet such as Netflix.

Wednesday’s announcement made her exit official — a full three months ahead of her contract expiration date. It is unclear where she will appear next.

“I myself am more surprised than anyone that I was able to hold down a job for seven years, and it was a fantastic seven years,” she said in a statement. “I will always look back at my time on E! as most people look back at their time in college. I’m glad I went.”

Suzanne Kolb, the president of E!, praised Handler for adding “a distinct voice to late night with her acerbic wit and fearless commentary.”

While E! develops a possible new late-night show, it will run “E! News” at 11 p. m.

In an interview on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live” earlier this year, Handler discussed her status as the only female comic in late night and said, “If I decided not to do late night anymore, being the only woman in late night, it would be a problem, because then I’m leaving that space empty.”

“So I kind of have to find someone to replace me,” she remarked. “So that’s what I’m doing right now.”

There was no indication, however, that Handler will be involved in the E! development process.