‘Chappelle’s Show’ Episode Quietly Removed from Streaming Services
ViacomCBS removed a “Chappelle’s Show” episode from streaming platforms and withheld it from licensing deals following sexual assault charges against its guest star, Ron Jeremy.
An episode of Comedy Central’s hit series Chappelle’s Show has been removed from streaming services and withheld from streaming on HBO Max and Netflix, The Daily Beast has learned exclusively.
The episode was first noted missing when Chappelle’s Show launched on HBO Max Sunday morning as part of a non-exclusive licensing deal with Comedy Central. WarnerMedia announced the deal in an Oct. 30 press release, stating that “all seasons” of Chappelle’s Show, as well as Inside Amy Schumer, Nathan for You, Reno 911!, and Key & Peele, would be available to stream on Nov. 1. However, on launch day, the sixth episode of Season 2, “The Internet & Moment in the Life of Lil Jon,” was absent from the lineup. No explanation was provided in the press release.
Netflix also announced on Oct. 30 that Chappelle’s Show would become available to stream Nov. 1, but did not specify which episodes were included in the deal. Two days later, every episode of the series (including the famous Season 3 “Lost Episodes”) arrived on the platform—except for “The Internet & Moment in the Life of Lil Jon.”
First aired in February 2004, the episode features several iconic sketches, including the inaugural installment of “When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong” and “A Moment in the Life of Lil Jon,” in which Chappelle’s Lil Jon checks in at the airport. But according to a source close to ViacomCBS, the sketch at the root of the episode’s removal was neither of these, but one known as “If the Internet Was a Real Place.”
In the sketch, Chappelle (as himself) visits a physical manifestation of the internet, where he is led through an increasingly lurid and perverse world by the porn star Ron Jeremy. Jeremy repeatedly asks Chappelle if he “want(s) to see me have sex,” then invites him to watch Paris Hilton’s leaked sex tape. Dialogue from the tape—the public dissemination of which Hilton has described as “like being raped”—is played twice for both men. (Chappelle and fellow Chappelle’s Show executive producers Neal Brennan and Michele Armour did not respond to requests for comment.)
According to the source, the episode was first removed from streaming on Comedy Central platforms, as well as CBS All Access—which also falls under the ViacomCBS banner—in June when Jeremy was charged with sexually assaulting four women. Since then, the performer has been charged with a total of “11 forcible rape counts, six counts of forcible oral copulation, eight sexual battery by restraint counts, five counts of forcible penetration by a foreign object, and one count each of sodomy, assault with the intent to commit rape, assault with the intention to commit forcible penetration digitally, penetration by a foreign object on an unconscious victim, and lewd conduct with a 15-year-old girl,” according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
When ViacomCBS signed over the non-exclusive streaming rights for Chappelle’s Show to Netflix and HBO Max later in the year, the episode was excluded from the licensing deals altogether due to standards and practices. Netflix and HBO Max declined to comment officially; however, a source close to ViacomCBS, a source close to WarnerMedia, and a source familiar with the situation all independently confirmed that both streamers were notified in advance by ViacomCBS that this specific episode would not be made available as part of their non-exclusive deals.
This is not the first example of ViacomCBS withholding problematic episodes from its partnerships with streaming services. As reported earlier this year, five episodes of South Park featuring depictions of the Prophet Muhammad were also excluded from what is reported to be a $500 million streaming rights deal with HBO Max. Despite this, HBO Max’s Oct. 30 press release announcing the Chappelle’s Show deal also states that “these series join the entire ‘South Park’ library” on the platform. (HBO Max declined to address that discrepancy. According to a source close to WarnerMedia, neither the Chappelle’s Show episode nor the South Park episodes are considered missing from their respective libraries since they were never licensed to the streaming service to begin with.)
Chappelle’s Show is also not the only series to have an episode removed from streaming following allegations of sexually predatory behavior this year. In June, multiple streamers took an episode of Comedy Central’s Workaholics down after guest star Chris D’Elia was accused of grooming and harassing multiple women. Perhaps most famously, The Cosby Show was also extensively yanked from both syndication and streaming services in response to dozens of allegations of sexual assault and rape against its star.
Ironically, the news that “The Internet & Moment in the Life of Lil Jon” has been pulled from streaming comes at the end of an unusually visible year for the once-reclusive Chappelle.
In addition to securing non-exclusive streaming rights to Chappelle’s Show, Netflix released two new specials of his in 2020: one commemorating his prestigious Mark Twain Prize ceremony; the second, a searing monologue on race, class, and police brutality. He won two Emmy Awards for his 2019 Netflix special, Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones, while his “Intimate Socially Distanced Affair” stand-up series made weekly headlines over the summer. And to cap off the year, he was selected to host the Nov. 7 episode of Saturday Night Live, the first to air after the 2020 election.
Even so, sources say that there are no current plans to edit Ron Jeremy or the sketch out of the series, nor to make the episode available to stream in the future. Those curious to see “The Internet & Moment in the Life of Lil Jon” in its entirety will have to purchase it on Amazon or YouTube going forward.