Chappelle Renews for $50 million
Dave Chappelle has signed a massive deal with Comedy Central that will return the comedian’s hit series to the network for two more seasons. Sources familiar with the deal indicate it could be worth about $50 million, vaulting Chappelle, 30, into the rarefied realm of television’s top earners. The new contract is believed to mark not only a steep increase for Chappelle as star, writer, co-executive producer and co-creator of “Chappelle’s Show,” but more significantly, reward him with a hefty chunk of the series’ robust DVD sales.
Increasing the pressure on Comedy to close a megadeal with Chappelle was interest from other programmers eager to tap his talents, including NBC Universal Television Group, according to sources, which ultimately deemed Chappelle too expensive. FX is said to have made an eight-figure offer to lure Chappelle to the network, but to no avail.
The deal also has implications beyond Comedy for Chappelle within the network’s parent company, Viacom, sources said. Another component sets up Chappelle with a multimillion-dollar deal at Paramount Pictures to star in an adaptation of the autobiography of Rick James, the funk veteran whom Chappelle has lampooned on “Chappelle’s Show.” He may also be tapped for a different film project.
In addition, the contract is said to establish a development deal for Chappelle’s production company, Pilot Boy Prods., with managing principal Mustafa Abuelhija. The pair already has a project under consideration at Comedy featuring “Chappelle’s Show” contributor Paul Mooney.
Also reaping the benefits of the deal was Chappelle’s longtime partner, Neal Brennan, a director, executive producer, co-creator and writer of the series. While terms of the deal for Brennan were not disclosed, it is one of the richest deals in basic cable for a multihyphenate. “I knew we could continue at Comedy Central,” Brennan said. “We weren’t thinking of going anywhere else.”
Chappelle, who is vacationing in Paris, was not available for comment.
“Chappelle’s Show” has become an important series for Comedy, scoring a trio of Emmy nominations last month and ranking as the highest-rated cable program for the network’s demographic sweet spot, men 18-34, who comprised much of the 3.1 million total viewers the series averaged in its second season.