Laura Prepon pushes drinks, boundaries with 'Chelsea'

Jan. 10, 2012 at 9:13 AM ET

When Laura Prepon bounded out onto the TODAY plaza, blonde, tall and smiling, fans of "That '70s Show" saw a familiar face -- if not a familiar hair color. When they knew her, she was mostly known as a redhead, playing brash, bright Donna Pinciotti for all eight seasons of the Fox sitcom.

She's back on series TV now, heading up  "Are You There, Chelsea?, the show based on Chelsea Handler's writings. On Tuesday, Prepon addressed whether audiences were ready for Handler's edgy, alcohol-fueled style: "If you look at the shows that are successful now, 'Two and a Half Men,' and 'Modern Family,' even shows on HBO are pushing boundaries. We're right in there.... I think people will be able to handle it."

Speaking of alcohol, the series -- in which Prepon plays Chelsea Newman and Handler herself will occasionally appear as her born-again sister Sloane -- takes place largely in a sports bar. But this is no "Cheers" revamp: "'Cheers' would never be able to get away with what we get away with," laughed Prepon.

And the other burning question? Well, Chelsea Handler decided not to play Chelsea Newman because -- as Prepon says Handler has told her, "She always says 'I'm sick of being myself. I want someone else to do it.'"

And so they have. "Are You There, Chelsea?" premieres Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

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