After months of speculation, it appears that what many fans feared would happen has indeed come to pass: "Chappelle's Show" is finished.
Comedian and cast member Charlie Murphy revealed in the new issue of TV Guide that the series is not coming back. " 'Chappelle's Show' is over, man. Done," Murphy told the magazine. "It took me a long time to be able to say those words, but I can say it pretty easy now because it's the truth."
While Comedy Central still holds out hope that the show will return — and Murphy said that half of the new season was already filmed — many of those who made the series a cult phenomenon are facing up to the possibility that they will have to make do with the two seasons already on DVD. The third season of the popular sketch-comedy show has been on ice since creator Dave Chappelle halted production suddenly in May and went on a spiritual retreat to South Africa (see "Production On 'Chappelle's Show' Suspended").
"I'm disappointed it ended the way it did, but I'm not angry with anybody," Murphy said. " 'Chappelle's Show' was like the Tupac of TV shows. It came out, it got everybody's attention, it was a bright shining star, but it burned out and for some strange reason, it burned out quick."
In another sign that the show may be on permanent hiatus, Chappelle's longtime writing partner and the co-creative force behind the series, Neal Brennan, is "no longer part of the show," according to a Comedy Central spokesperson.
As part of a Time magazine interview with Chappelle at the time of his flight to Africa, Brennan said he was confused and a bit upset by how the comedian chose to deal with the pressure. Saying that there were creative differences on the set but that they were nothing out of the ordinary, Brennan said, "By the numbers, this was the worst way to have done it. He couldn't think straight. It was fight or flight — and he chose flight."
Chappelle, who made a pair of surprise comedy club appearances in Los Angeles in June (see "Dave Chappelle Resurfaces At Surprise Stand-Up Gigs In Los Angeles"), has not publicly discussed his plans for the future of the show since the Time interview. Publicist Matt Labov said he no longer represents the comedian, and Chappelle's lawyer did not return a call for comment at press time.
Chappelle met with Comedy Central boss Doug Herzog on June 3, but the pair have not spoken since — though the station has left the door open for his return, according to the spokesperson.
In the Time interview, Chappelle denied that he was in a mental-health facility or on drugs, but was staying with friends in South Africa in order to clear his head.
"I'm not crazy; I'm not smoking crack," he said. "I'm definitely stressed out. ... There were things that overwhelmed me ... but not in the way that people are saying. I haven't spent any of the money. All that stuff about partying and taking crack is not true. Why do I live on a farm in Ohio? To support my partying lifestyle?"
Chappelle said the pressure to live up to the unprecedented $50 million contract he signed with Comedy Central last year for two more seasons of the show has definitely led to some intense stress, which he felt he needed to escape from (see "Dave Chappelle Speaks: 'I'm Not Crazy; I'm Not Smoking Crack' ").