April 18, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

HBO Max to cut Dave Chappelle’s ‘Chappelle’s Show’ this year

Following Netflix’s lead and at the request of comedian Dave Chappelle, HBO has agreed to remove “Chappelle’s Show” from its streaming services.

The influential sketch comedy from the early 2000s will no longer be available after Dec. 31, according to HBO and HBO Max’s chief content officer, Casey Bloys.

“We had a conversation with Dave. I won’t get into it, but it’s very clear that it’s a very unique and specific and emotional issue he’s got,” Bloys said Tuesday during Variety’s virtual FYCFest. “So at the end of the year, at the end of this year, Dec. 31, we’re going to honor his request and take the show down.”

Reps for HBO declined to comment further on the agreement and the nature of the conversation between Bloys and Chappelle.

In November, Chappelle called out the cable TV and streaming giants, “publicly flogging” them in a lengthy, expletive-laden video posted on Instagram. Netflix, which paid millions for Chappelle’s exclusive, critically acclaimed stand-up comedy specials, obliged and removed “Chappelle’s Show.”

He explained that because of a “raw deal” he signed when he made “Chappelle’s Show” at Comedy Central in the aughts, he isn’t compensated when its parent company, ViacomCBS, licenses the sketch show to streamers like Netflix and HBO Max.

“I’m not up here to tell you Comedy Central gave me a raw deal just because I’m Black,” Chappelle said in the video. “I believe that they gave me a raw deal because this … industry is a monster.”

The comedian, 47, said he signed the contract granting Comedy Central the rights to “Chappelle’s Show” in perpetuity.

“I signed the contract the way that a 28-year-old expectant father that was broke signs a contract. I was desperate. I needed a way out. And it wasn’t good money and it wasn’t good circumstances, but what else am I going to do, I said,” Chappelle added.

In 2005, Chappelle suddenly walked away from the wildly successful TV show — on which he was a creator, executive producer and star — after three seasons. After keeping a low profile for years, he later said that he was “definitely stressed out” by it.

Netflix and HBO Max reportedly got streaming rights to the series in the U.S. through a nonexclusive deal with ViacomCBS, which owns Comedy Central. The shows will ultimately become exclusive to Paramount+ — the new name for CBS All Access — but until that rebrand happens in early 2021, the company is aiming to introduce its library content to new audiences.

“Chappelle’s Show” is still available on CBS All Access and Comedy Central.

No money went to the comic in the new deal, and nobody had to ask him for permission, Chappelle said, because he had signed that contract years ago. But he did give Netflix, which started streaming his show Nov. 1, a phone call.

Times staff writer Christie D’Zurilla contributed to this story.