There has been much speculation on Dave Chappelle's "$50 million" Comedy Central deal, a sum many assumed he kissed bye-bye after ditching the third season of Chappelle's Show for a little sojourn up the side of Mount Bonkers. The guessing is over. Now that The Smoking Gun has posted a breach of contract complaint brought against the comedian by an ex-personal manager, Chappelle's "former jack-of-all-trades" Mustafa Abuelhija, many of the deal's finer points have been revealed:
When Chappelle re-upped with Comedy Central last year, press reports valued the agreement at $50 million, a deal that was largely torpedoed when the comedian abandoned the show this year after filming only a few episodes of its third season. According to Abuelhija, the cable network gave Chappelle a $4.5 million "nonrefundable up-front payment" when the deal was signed and agreed to pay him $275,000 per episode and about $25,000 per repeat (the deal covered 13-episode seasons in 2005 and 2006). The contract, Abuelhija noted, also guaranteed the star 50 percent royalties on "Chappelle's Show" DVD and merchandise sales retroactive to the show's first season. The DVD deal is particularly lucrative since Chappelle's program is among the best-selling television DVDs, with its second season compilation having set a record this June with the sale of 1.2 million units during its first week in stores.
Out a staggering $4.5 million for that virtually-unheard-of-for-a-cable-network "nonrefundable up-front payment," it's hardly surprising Comedy Central would want to cobble together a third season of Chappelle's Show based on whatever airable footage they could find. Assuming the DVD take is accurate, we can assume that a steady convoy of dumptrucks brimming with cash await turns dumping their contents onto his lawn, as a bead-braided wig sits untouched on its styrofoam stand.