Comedy Central Suspends 'Chappelle’s Show’

Comedy Central is revving up its late-night schedule, but breakout hit Chappelle’s Show may be on shaky ground.

In a terse announcement last Wednesday that left many questions unanswered, Comedy Central said it suspended production of Chappelle’s Show. The premiere of the sketch-comedy show’s third season, which had been set for May 31, was postponed indefinitely.

The day before, Comedy Central participated in MTV Networks’ upfront presentation for advertisers and mentioned the now-postponed return of Chappelle’s Show. Comedy Central had also been heavily promoting Chappelle’s third-season premiere.

The Viacom-owned network’s statement said it had “suspended production on the third season of Chappelle’s Show until further notice. All parties are optimistic that production will resume in the near future. The third season will not premiere on May 31 as originally scheduled.”

Comedy Central spokesman Tony Fox declined to comment further. No reason was given for the suspension of production.

A spokesman for host Dave Chappelle said, “At this point, we don’t have anything to add to the statement.”

Material for about five episodes of the third season has been shot, sources said.

Getting the third season of Chappelle’s Show on the air hasn’t been easy. The show was initially supposed to debut with new episodes in February, but that was postponed until May after Chappelle reportedly became ill.

Stand-up comedian Chappelle’s irreverent sketch show has been a ratings hit for Comedy Central. In its second season, Chappelle’s Show posted a 2.6 rating, averaging 3.1 million total viewers in its Wednesday premiere plays.

Back in August, Chappelle reached an agreement to extend his contract with Comedy Central, to return for a third and fourth season of 13 episodes each. The network has nicely profited on DVDs from Chappelle’s Show, with the one for the first season making its mark as the best-selling TV series on DVD.

Chappelle’s postponement overshadowed Comedy Central’s announcement that it was launching three new late-night shows, trying to build on the success of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.

Those shows are: Weekends at the DL, a late-night talk and entertainment program with comedian D.L. Hughley that will air Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 11 p.m. starting in July; The Colbert Report, an offshoot of The Daily Show, featuring correspondent Stephen Colbert; and a show focusing on the events of the day and pop culture starring The Man Show veteran Adam Carolla.