HBO Max will join Netflix in pulling repeats of the venerable sketch comedy series Chappelle’s Show, following a plea by the show’s co-creator, star and namesake, who claims distributor ViacomCBS isn’t paying him a dime in residuals.
“We had a conversation with Dave [Chappelle]. 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,” Casey Bloys, chief content officer of HBO and HBO Max, told Variety. “So at the end of the year, December 31st, we’re going to honor his request and take the show down.”
ViacomCBS reps haven’t yet responded to Next TV’s inquiry for comment.
Chappelle referenced what he feels as exploitive distribution practices by ViacomCBS on several occasions last month, the first being his now quadrennial post-presidential election appearance on Saturday Night Live on Nov. 7. He later posted on Instagram a segment of a recent standup appearance, which he titled Unforgiven, during which he outlined his beefs with ViacomCBS and WarnerMedia, and praised Netflix for agreeing to pull Chappelle’s Show.
Chappelle also made a plea to his fans to boycott the series until ViacomCBS re-negotiated distribution terms. “If you ever liked me, please boycott me,” he quipped.
Chappelle famously walked away from the popular Comedy Central series in May 2006, shortly after re-upping with the erstwhile Viacom in a multi-year $50 million deal.
Chappelle concedes in Unforgiven that ViacomCBS is within its contractual rights to license Chappelle’s Show to Netflix and HBO Max without, he claims, paying him anything. The comedian contends, however, that doing so amounts to exploitation of what had been a struggling young comedian and expectant father who was, at the time, “desperate.”
He also took aim at HBO, which he said was originally pitched on Chappelle’s Show two decades ago and, Chappelle also claims, took somewhat rude hard pass.
“They said, literally, ‘What do we need you for?’ That’s what they told me as they kicked me out of the office, ‘What do we need you for?’” Chappelle said in his Instagram video. “And here we are all these years later and they’re streaming the very show I was pitching to them. So I’m asking them, what do you need me for?”
Chappelle said his end goal is to choke the still popular series off of its distribution channels and force ViacomCBS to negotiate with him. But beyond its distribution of Comedy Central in the traditional pay TV sphere, ViacomCBS has its own direct-to-consumer outlets in SVOD channel CBS All Access (soon to be rebranded Parmamount Plus) and AVOD outlet Pluto TV.
Chappelle’s Show can also be purchased through transactional markets like Amazon and Vudu.
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!
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