If you'd been in the middle of a re-watch of Chappelle's Show on Netflix, or, maybe, were even finally checking out the beloved sketch series for the first time, you might have already noticed that it disappeared from the streamer overnight. Now, we know what led to Netflix removing the show, but if you've been paying close attention to Dave Chappelle's recent appearances, you may already have a hint as to what went down. It turns out that Chappelle himself is behind the move.
Here's what happened. ViacomCBS decided to license Chappelle's Show, which originally ran on Comedy Central from 2003 through 2006, to Netflix and several other outlets for streaming. But, as Dave Chappelle said in a video posted to Instagram today, titled "Unforgiven," he noted that he was never paid for the right to stream his hit show, which he co-created, executive produced, and starred in. So, Chappelle went to the bigwigs at the streamer, where he's had a deal to create comedy specials for four years, and asked them to take the show down, at least until he gets the money he feels is owed to him.
Here's part of what he had to say:
People think I made a lot of money from Chappelle’s Show. When I left that show I never got paid. They (ViacomCBS) didn’t have to pay me because I signed the contract. But is that right? I found out that these people were streaming my work and they never had to ask me or they never have to tell me. Perfectly legal ‘cause I signed the contract...I was furious. How could they not– how could they not know? So you know what I did? I called them and I told them that this makes me feel bad. And you want to know what they did? They agreed that they would take it off their platform just so I could feel better. That’s why I fuck with Netflix. Because they paid me my money, they do what they say they’re going to do, and they went above and beyond what you could expect from a businessman. They did something just because they thought that I might think that they were wrong. And I do — I think that if you are fucking streaming that show you’re fencing stolen goods.
As a result of Chappelle's plea to Netflix, the streaming service went ahead and removed Chappelle's Show over night. If you tuned in for his recent appearance to host Saturday Night Live after the presidential election, you may remember that Chappelle spoke about his distaste for what ViacomCBS had done in selling his show with non-exclusive streaming rights, without giving him any of the cash that resulted from those deals. The show was also licensed to HBO Max recently, and can still be found there, along with being on the Viacom owned Comedy Central and CBS All Access platforms.
During his SNL monologue, Chappelle asked fans not to watch Chappelle's Show on Netflix unless he was paid, but now he's taken care of at least part of the issue by discussing it with Netflix and seeing that the comedy will just be unavailable there for the time being. After Chappelle's Show arrived on HBO Max and Netflix early this month, it made news for a very different reason, as fans quickly noticed that one of its only 28 episodes wasn't on either service. The decision to withhold the Season 2, Episode 6 installment from both streamers, though, was due to the legal troubles that guest star Ron Jeremy has been having after being charged with several counts of sexual assault, and more.
According to Deadline, typically when companies license content, they pay the company which put that content up for sell, and then the selling company is responsible for paying the creatives who made that content. Dave Chappelle is saying that that did not happen in this case, and he took action to try and make sure that he gets what he deserves for creating a sketch comedy classic.
You can take a look at his full message to fans about the matter, below:
There's no word right now if or when we could see Chappelle's Show return to Netflix, or if the show could disappear from other streaming services, but stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest.