Dave Chappelle just pulled off something that few other actors/comedians/celebrities could ever hope to accomplish in a world of big money streaming platforms and massive contracts around original content. Chappelle actually got Netflix to agree to take Chappelle’s Show off their platform, even though they had already purchased the rights to air it, and recently debuted in on their streaming service. Not only that, he’s actually starting a boycott of his own show, due to a lack of payment for the series.
In an Instagram video he titled, Unforgiven, Dave Chappelle is on stage as part of a recent performance. In it, he explains why he wanted Chappelle’s Show pulled off of Netflix and what led the platform to ultimately honor his request. You can watch the video below.
The issues with Dave Chappelle and his content are part of a series of deals between the comedian, Netflix, and ViacomCBS. ViacomCBS owns the rights to Chappelle’s Show, which they licensed to Netflix in early November. As Chappelle describes it, the contract he signed with ViacomCBS regarding his groundbreaking Comedy Central show did not include a provision for him to continue being paid, even though Viacom continued airing the show.
Dave Chappelle admits this was a mistake on his part, and that there was no legal ground for him to fight it, but goes on to say that from a moral and ethical standpoint, it simply wasn’t right. He talks about being young and unaware of some of the legal ramifications of contracts when he was first starting out. He is clear that he believes he was taken advantage of by the network when first making it big in the industry.
When ViacomCBS worked a deal to stream Chappelle’s Show to Netflix, it was a totally separate deal than the one Dave Chappelle signed with the streaming platform. That latter deal reportedly has the comedian earning $20 million per performance. His last three specials Equanimity, The Bird Revelation, and Sticks and Stones were massive critical and streaming hits for the platform.
Netflix, in a move praised by Dave Chappelle, agreed to remove Chappelle’s Show off of the platform on Wednesday morning. The comedian explains that this is why he’s chosen to do business with Netflix, believing them to be honorable in their business dealings. He goes on to say that other platforms like HBOMax, which is also streaming the show, should follow suit. He even describes how HBO had originally passed on his original pitch for the show, only to years later air it without ever paying him.
In all, Dave Chappelle is still asking fans to boycott Chappelle’s Show on all platforms, believing his supporters are the best way to make his voice heard. Chappelle even recently mentioned his problems with the choice to stream his old show when he hosted Saturday Night Live. It will be interesting to see if others follow suit or if ViacomCBS decides to reopen the original contract in a good-faith measure. Netflix made the first move, but it might not be the last.