Netflix pulls Chappelle's Show from streaming at Dave Chappelle's request
The comedian, who has had a professional relationship with Netflix for the last four years, asked the streamer to pull the Comedy Central series due to a dispute with the channel and its parent company, ViacomCBS. Chappelle alleges that the initial contract he signed to produce Chappelle's Show has prevented him from receiving royalties for the series and allowed the company to license it without his consent.
"People think I made a lot of money from Chappelle’s Show," Chappelle said in a stand-up set posted to Instagram, titled Unforgiven. "When I left that show I never got paid. They didn't have to pay me because I signed the contract. But is that right? I found out that these people were streaming my work and they never had to ask me or they never had to tell me. Perfectly legal 'cause I signed the contract. But is that right? I didn't think so either."
Chappelle departed Chappelle's Show in 2005 under contentious circumstances, fleeing to South Africa in the midst of production on the series' third season. He later explained that the stress of producing the show and issues of creative control led him to quit.
"I didn’t like the direction of the show," Chappelle said at the time. "I was trying to explain it to people, and no one was feeling me. There’s a lot of resistance to my opinions, so I decided, let me remove myself from this situation."
Over a decade later, the comedian explained in Unforgiven, he was "furious" when he discovered Netflix was streaming the series. "So you know what I did?" he continued. "I called them and I told them that this makes me feel bad. And you want to know what they did? They agreed that they would take it off their platform just so I could feel better. That’s why I f--- with Netflix. Because they paid me my money, they do what they say they're going to do, and they went above and beyond what you could expect from a businessman. They did something just because they thought that I might think that they were wrong. And I do. I think that if you are f---ing streaming that show you’re fencing stolen goods."
Netflix had no comment on the matter. Representatives for Comedy Central did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
Chappelle went on to criticize ViacomCBS and Comedy Central, as well as the entertainment industry at large: "When I quit the show, all my friends would say, 'Well, f--- them, Dave. Why don't you just do Chappelle's Show at another network?'" he said. "And why doesn't a slave run from one plantation to another plantation because the master over there might be nicer?" He also implored his fans not to stream the series until the dispute is resolved.
"I’m begging you, please don’t watch that show," he said, addressing the audience. "I’m not asking you to boycott any network — boycott me. Boycott Chappelle’s Show. Do not watch it unless they pay me." He added, addressing ViacomCBS, "I am inviting you to come with me, and work with me....We can fight together, and work this thing with Chappelle's Show out. Or, I can just take it."
Chappelle's Show remains available to stream on HBO Max and on various ViacomCBS networks, including Comedy Central and CBS All Access.