(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Dave Chappelle's former manager is claiming that the comedian has stiffed him on more than $800,000 in payments stemming from the aborted third season of "Chappelle's Show" and other deals.
The ex-manager, Mustafa Abuelhija, filed suit against Chappelle Monday in a New York federal court. Abuelhija claims that he acted as Chappelle's personal manager from September 2004 until he was fired in June of this year.
During that time, he says he helped negotiate the lucrative deal for third and fourth seasons of "Chappelle's Show" with Comedy Central; helped secure a seven-figure deal for the DVD release of Chappelle's stand-up special "For What It's Worth"; and acted as a producer on the concert film "Block Party," which is due for release in March 2006, among other things. (A copy of the suit is at TheSmokingGun.com.)
One problem: Abuelhija says his management contract with Chappelle was verbal and "was never reduced to writing."
The lawsuit offers a peek into Chappelle's huge deal with Comedy Central, which was reported as being worth $50 million. Abuelhija's suit states Chappelle received a "nonrefundable upfront payment" of $4.5 million upon signing the renewal deal and would be paid $275,000 per episode, plus an additional 25 grand for each repeat. The contract also gave Chappelle half the royalties on "Chappelle's Show" DVD and merchandise sales, retroactive to the first season–which is one of the best-selling TV-DVD sets of all time.
Abuelhija claims he's owed $864,500 from the "Chappelle's Show" payment, the DVD advance of "For What It's Worth" and his percentage of fees from Chappelle's personal appearances during the time Abuelhija was his manager. He's also seeking a percentage of future profits from DVD sales and "Block Party," on which he says he deserves to be credited as a producer.
Comedy Central will air four episodes from the third season of "Chappelle's Show" in the spring. The shows will be culled together from material Chappelle filmed prior to walking away from the show in April.