LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- In a monster deal that could wind up being worth up to $50 million, comedian Dave Chappelle has signed a deal with Comedy Central to return to his hit series "Chappelle's Show" for two additional seasons.
The pact also calls for Chappelle to develop new programs for the cable channel through his Pilot Boy Productions (including a series pilot featuring "Chappelle" regular Paul Mooney) and a multi-million dollar deal at Paramount Pictures to star in an adaptation of the autobiography of Rick James.
More importantly, Chappelle will receive a bigger cut on future DVD sales of the series as well as retroactively to the first and second seasons. A collection of the show's first season from Paramount Home Entertainment has sold 1.7 million units, generating more than $43 million in revenue. Said sales have made the release this year's top-selling TV DVD and the third bestselling TV disc of all time.
"Chappelle's Show" co-creator Neil Brennan will also return as a director, executive producer and writer on the series.
Various industry insiders say both the NBC Universal Television Group (which includes Bravo, USA, Sci Fi and Trio) and FX were interested in poaching the series from Comedy Central, however it's not clear what their offers were.
"Chappelle's" two-season renewal will consist of 26 episodes with each season featuring 10 original episodes, two "best-of" episodes and another devoted to music performances. The series closed its second cycle earlier this year, averaging 3.1 million viewers.
Comedy Central touted the news in a press release yesterday:
DAVE CHAPPELLE INKS NEW PACT WITH COMEDY CENTRAL KEEPING THE HOST OF THE EMMY-NOMINATED �CHAPPELLE�S SHOW� AT THE ALL-COMEDY CHANNEL FOR TWO MORE YEARS
New Deal Includes Ten Original Episodes, Two �Best-Of�s� And One Musical Special Per Year
Chappelle Will Continue On In His Current Capacity As Star, Executive Producer And Writer
NEW YORK, August 2, 2004 � COMEDY CENTRAL has reached an agreement with Dave Chappelle to extend the contract of the star of the critically-acclaimed �Chappelle�s Show,� it was announced today by Doug Herzog, president, COMEDY CENTRAL.
The Emmy-nominated �Chappelle�s Show� will return to COMEDY CENTRAL for a third and fourth season (13 episodes each), after Dave Chappelle inked a new two-year deal with COMEDY CENTRAL, extending the show through 2006. Chappelle will continue in his current capacity as star, co-creator, writer and executive producer of the series, along with Neal Brennan returning as co-creator, writer and executive producer. The pact also includes a deal for Chappelle to develop new programming ideas for COMEDY CENTRAL.
�Re-signing Dave Chappelle was a top priority and I am just so pleased that we were able to reach an agreement,� said Lauren Corrao, COMEDY CENTRAL�s senior vice president of original programming & head of development. �COMEDY CENTRAL is the rightful home for �Chappelle�s Show� and Dave�s unique and provocative brand of humor and we look forward to several more years of success with Dave and his talented team of producers and performers.�
�The success of the show has been phenomenal and overwhelming,� said Dave Chappelle. �I�m looking forward to coming back to COMEDY CENTRAL for a big finish and now I�m actually rich, bitch!�
The new season of �Chappelle�s Show� is scheduled to begin first quarter 2005 with Chappelle continuing his unique comedic approach combined with a hip-hop sensibility. Chappelle�s point-of-view on the world provides a hilarious, defiant and sometimes dangerous look at American culture, including music, movies, television, advertising, current events and everyday life situations.
�Chappelle�s Show� won nothing but accolades and impressive ratings when it first premiered on the network, garnering high ratings from the beginning. In its just concluded second season, the hilariously provocative show experienced a huge week-to-week increase by registering a 2.2 HH rating (2.5 million viewers) and averages 3.1 million total viewers in its Wednesday main play. �Chappelle�s Show� was the number one cable show in its timeslot among total viewers and adults 18-49 and was the number one show in its slot in all of television among young men, 18-34. The audience for the series was dominated by P18-49 with 75% of the total audience falling into this demographic.
�Chappelle�s Show� was recently nominated for three Emmy Awards in the categories of Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing For A Variety, Music or Comedy Program and Outstanding Individual Achievement In Writing In A Variety Or Music Program.
First season �Chappelle�s Show� DVD sales are closing in on 2 million units, making it the most successful television DVD release of 2004 and the third best TV DVD seller of all time.
COMEDY CENTRAL, the only all-comedy network, currently is seen in more than 85 million homes nationwide. COMEDY CENTRAL is owned by Comedy Partners, a wholly-owned division of MTV Networks. COMEDY CENTRAL is a registered trademark of Comedy Partners. COMEDY CENTRAL�s Internet address is http://www.comedycentral.com.