Dave Chappelle, 30, snags a two-year deal with Comedy Central that could be worth $50m:
- The new contract is believed to mark not only a steep increase for Chappelle as star, writer, co-executive producer and co-creator of “Chappelle’s Show,” but more significantly, reward him with a hefty chunk of the series’ robust DVD sales.
Increasing the pressure on Comedy to close a megadeal with Chappelle was interest from other programers eager to tap his talents, including NBC Universal Television Group, according to sources, which ultimately deemed Chappelle too expensive. FX is said to have made an eight-figure offer to lure Chappelle to the network, but to no avail.
The deal also has implications beyond Comedy for Chappelle within the network’s parent company, Viacom, sources said. Another component sets up Chappelle with a multimillion-dollar deal at Paramount Pictures to star in an adaptation of the autobiography of Rick James, the funk veteran whom Chappelle has lampooned on “Chappelle’s Show.”
….”Chappelle’s Show” has become an important series for Comedy, scoring a trio of Emmy nominations last month and ranking as the highest-rated cable program for the network’s demographic sweet spot, men 18-34, who comprised much of the 3.1 million total viewers the series averaged in its second season.
The ratings for “Chappelle’s Show” not only held up well in reruns, but boosted other longtime Comedy staples including “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” and “South Park” — not to mention the network’s strong primetime performance in the first and second quarter of the year.
….More important, “Chappelle’s Show” has become a juggernaut on DVD, selling 1.7 million units to date of a collection of first-season episodes — the most successful television-related DVD of the year despite minimal marketing.
….As DVD becomes an increasingly lucrative revenue stream for networks and studios, the format is taking a place next to syndication as a crucial deal point for profit participants. In HBO’s contentious renegotiation with “The Sopranos” star James Gandolfini last year, DVD also emerged as a thorny issue.
Combining Chappelle’s DVD take with his per-episode salary (estimated to be in the low-middle six figures) puts him in the league of Gandolfini and fellow Comedy executive producers Matt Stone and Trey Parker of “South Park.” [Reuters]