May 9, 2005
Dave Chappelle is under pressure, according to a Newsweek report. The star of Comedy Central's popular "Chappelle's Show" is exhausted due to tension, partying and creative differences with Comedy Central, causing the recent halt in the show's production, the report said.
"I saw him start trippin' when the buzz started to get real loud," one unidentified celebrity friend told Newsweek. "I think he was in shock after the first season, and then (during) the second, it hit him that he was the man. That freaked him. And then came the pressure of living up to expectations for the third season. He's never been there - where something's so good and you got to come even stronger the next time. It was too much."
Neither Comedy Central publicist Tony Fox nor Chappelle's spokesman, Matt Labov, has discussed what caused the halt in production, which was announced last week, or how long it will last. The third season was to premiere May 31.
Another source pointed to the 31-year-old actor-comedian's partying, although Labov has denied that his client has a drug problem.
"Everyone knows Dave likes to have fun," a music industry source said. "I wouldn't say it's out of control ... but at some point that has to affect you if you've got a regular gig."
The Newsweek report claims Chappelle wants to delve into more controversial racial issues, unsettling "Comedy Central" executives, but Comedy Central and an employee in Chappelle's camp said last week the delay "is not a network issue."
"Dave is not compromising what he wants to do," another source said. "He's waited a long time for this chance, and he's not trying to do anything that isn't 100 percent his vision."
Last summer Comedy Central signed Chappelle to a deal reportedly worth $50 million for a third and fourth season. The two-year agreement also allowed Chappelle to develop other programming for the cable channel and cut him in on DVD sales, a lucrative factor considering his series' first-season DVD sold more than 2 million copies.
Last season the show was nominated for three Emmys, including outstanding comedy series.