Busy Philipps on Why a Talk Show’s the 'Right Move' and Going 'Pretty Hard' on Some in Memoir

E! has been a network barren of late-night talk shows for years. First, Chelsea Handler's Chelsea Lately concluded in 2014, and Joel McHale's The Soup followed in 2015, but E! is getting ready to amp up its late-night game. Beginning October 28 at 10 p.m. ET, Busy Philipps will be headlining her own show, Busy Tonight.

Philipps, 39, has come a long way from her days on Dawson’s Creek and Freaks and Geeks. She appeared on shows like Cougar Town and Vice Principals and made appearances in films like I Feel Pretty and White Chicks. Through social media, she invited fans into her life, posting updates on her workouts, two daughters and Whole30 journey. With 1.3 million Instagram followers, there are a lot of eyes on Philipps. For her next foray, the star is releasing her first-ever book Tuesday, This Will Only Hurt a Little Bit, and tackling the male-dominated world of late-night television.

Ahead of Philipps’s talk show debut, she spoke with Newsweek about what viewers can expect on Busy Tonight, in addition to her upcoming memoir and what makes her noteworthy Instagram profile so appealing to the masses.

This interview has been condensed for brevity.

E! hasn’t aired talk shows since 2015, the year when Joel McHale’s show ended, and Chelsea Handler’s concluded a year before. This makes the arrival of Busy Tonight a huge deal. How did the initial conversation for your talk show come about?
A little less than a year ago, I was really at a crossroad career-wise and trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. I was feeling a little disheartened by the business. I had been finding myself enjoying what I was doing on Instagram. One day, I had my “aha” moment. I turned to Mark [Silverstein], my husband, and I said: “I know what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to have a late-night talk show.” Tina Fey and I had been talking about possibly working together again. I called her producing partner Eric [Gurian]. He basically was like, “Let me get back to you. I’ll take it to Tina. It’s not really what we do over here, but we love you and want to support you.” About two weeks later, Tina called back, and they’re like, “We think we just sold this to E!” I knew it was going to happen.

That’s really cool though how E! greenlit Busy Tonight without having a fleshed-out pitch.
I have to say, it obviously made me feel great. When we announced the show, the response from the world made feel like I’m actually doing exactly what I should be doing. This is the right move, right show for me. People are excited about it. They want this, and you gotta give the people what they want.

So when viewers tune in, what can they expect to see? 
I’m creating a show that I would want to watch before bed. We’ll talk about the day’s events in pop culture, what’s going on and have a little bit of a conversation about it. We want it to be like a little treat at the end of the day for you. Your kids are in bed. You sent your last email. Chill out, have a glass of wine, a margarita or a marijuana gummy. Whatever you choose to relax. Let’s just chill, talk, have a good time [and] see some celebrities that you love.

Are there any particular dream guests you’d like to have on?
I have lots of dream guests. There’s Oprah, which is the No. 1. She’s my idol and my everything. Also, Julia Roberts is a huge one for me. She has the most perfect face in the world, and she’s like the biggest movie star of all time. By the way, she’s killing the Instagram game. She’s doing such a good job on Insta, like in a way that I’m jealous. Truly jealous.

Who do you want to see on my show?

Obviously, you have to bring on Michelle Williams. We need a Dawson’s Creek reunion!
Oh yes, Michelle’s going to be on the show. Don’t worry about it! Michelle’s going to be there.

Being a woman who has their own late-night talk show is rare in today’s climate, and it shouldn’t be. Why do you think more women haven’t infiltrated the late-night talk show world even in 2018?
There [are] lots of reasons when we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty here. Every decision that’s made starts at the top. If you have only men in charge of these things, there’s not a lot of room for other kinds of voices to break through. Part of what attracted me and why I wanted to do this was to fill that space. I feel like representation matters. Maybe people can think, Oh, this is frivolous. It’s not. It matters. I want to create content for people like me—women, my friends, the people on my writing staff. I say this to the people work for me every day: "We’re making a show for all of us." It’s not just about what I want to see, and I know I said that in the beginning, but I want to make this show what we all want to see, what we’re not getting and how can we bring it.

We’re ready for you to enter the late-night space, and we’re also ready for your book, This Will Only Hurt a Little Bit. The memoir’s release is perfectly timed with Busy Tonight’s debut. You’re known for being super blunt and honest, so will readers see a bit of that come across in your book?
Part of how I wanted to approach this was with complete honesty and transparency, even when it meant being personally uncomfortable I’ve been longing to tell my story since I was a teenager. I feel like I do go pretty hard on some people in the book [including myself]. I could have made the choice to just write a very fluffy thing about my time in Hollywood or whatever, but origin stories have always been my favorite stories. I wanted to give a complete picture. It’s really scary to put yourself out into the world like that for consumption and judgment, but I’m just holding onto if I were a young person and I read this book, I’d be like, "Oh, cool. This is cool. There’s something for me here."

What’s a moment from your book that you’re most excited for fans to read about?
I think the last chapter’s pretty dope, but you’ve got to make it to the end. You have to read the whole thing.

Did you find it challenging to buckle down and write your memoir?
Yes, I did. I documented it well on Instagram—my process of not wanting to write. I’ve always been a writer. I get it when people are like, "If you want to write, write every day." But I’m like, "Bro, I don’t have fucking time for that shit." I have a family and a career that I’m trying to do. If I’m going to write, I would sit down and write 4,000 words, 5,000 words at a time. Something kind of wild, you know? There would be literal weeks where I was like, "I can’t get into that." Some of it was a little traumatic and a little dense for me to get into. Honestly, sometimes I’m emotionally not in a place this week where I can do this. I was trying to take care of myself in the process of writing it. I hit a point where I was like, "I really have to just do it. I have to buckle down and do it." And that was difficult. The editing process was really hard for me. No one told me that the editing process sucked.

Your Instagram is so raw and personal, whether it’s sharing posts about your daughters or previewing your LEKFit workouts. Many people are obsessed with it. Why do you think people are drawn to your profile?
I don’t know, girlfriend. I’ve tried to figure it out. There’s no formula. For me, it’s been all very intuitive in terms of the things that I share [or] don’t share because believe it or not, there is shit that I don’t share. I really couldn’t tell you what it is that people respond to.

Have you ever regretted sharing anything on your Instagram profile?
When I first started doing social media, I feel like I found posting about my children to be very cathartic and empowering in a way. It changed a little bit with paparazzi. I still get paparazzi. My kids [Birdie and Cricket] still get paparazzi. Not so many American publications will post it. So it felt empowering I could control the photos of my kids. If the paparazzi took a horrible picture of my kids screaming or something, at least I could put a cuter picture out there. I go back and forth about [it]. We were at a restaurant recently, and somebody said, "Hi, Birdie and Cricket." I was like, "Wait. That’s a stranger. That’s not a person we know."

Busy Philipps on Why Talk Show Was the 'Right Move' Actress Busy Philipps is pictured attending P.S. ARTS Express Yourself 2018 at Barker Hangar on October 7 in Santa Monica, California. She spoke with Newsweek about her upcoming talk show, "Busy Tonight," and her debut novel, "This Will Only Hurt a Little Bit." Charley Gallay/Getty Images for P.S. ARTS

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