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Netflix fires employee who leaked figures hinting at Dave Chappelle earnings for comedy specials

Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle has released three comedy specials for Netflix with the recent The Closer released in October. Pic

Netflix has fired an employee for leaking confidential financial data to the media which gives the public an idea of how much Dave Chappelle earned for the comedy special The Closer.

The leak also featured financial information about the comedian’s other featured projects on the streaming platform, as well as additional Netflix series such as Squid Game.

A Netflix spokesperson confirmed the employee’s dismissal in a statement to the media.

“We have let go of an employee for sharing confidential, commercially sensitive information outside the company,” they said, adding, “We understand this employee may have been motivated by disappointment and hurt with Netflix, but maintaining a culture of trust and transparency is core to our company.

Dave Chapelle’s Netflix earnings hinted at by leak

Netflix’s leaked internal financial data, which was published by Bloomberg, gives an idea of how much Dave Chappelle may have earned for his comedy specials — with the streaming giant paying over $20 million for each one.

Although, Chapelle’s salary for each special isn’t known, as both the star, writer, and executive producer he likely earned a large chunk of the total sum.

The leaked data reveals that Netflix spent $24.1 million on The Closer and paid $23.6 million for his 2019 special, Sticks & Stones, so Chappelle’s earnings from both are certain to have been in the millions.

By comparison, Squid Game, Netflix’s most-watched series ever, cost Netflix $21.4 million. 

According to the Bloomberg report, the Sticks & Stones special cost more than the value it generated based on the streaming giant’s measurement, however, this data does not indicate how much profit Netflix earns from the comedy specials.

Netflix defends Chappelle’s comedy

Chapelle’s comedy special faced backlash from trans activists, who criticized his comments about the transgender community as transphobic.

On Monday, it was reported by The Verge that Netflix suspended a trans employee and two others for attempting to attend a director-level meeting that they were not authorized to attend. Trans employees are also organizing a protest as Netflix continues to defend Chappelle’s comedic commentary.

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos was among those to defend Chappelle’s content, rejecting (via Variety Magazine) the notion that it causes real-world violence against the trans community.

“With ‘The Closer,’ we understand that the concern is not about offensive-to-some content but titles which could increase real-world harm (such as further marginalizing already marginalized groups, hate, violence, etc.),” Sarandos reportedly wrote in an email obtained by the publication.

“Last year, we heard similar concerns about 365 days and violence against women. While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm,” the statement continued.

Sarandos added that violence on-screen had increased dramatically over the last three decades, yet violent crime has declined.

GLAAD, which focuses on discrimination in the media coverage of LGBT people, rebuked Sarandos’s claim that film and TV content does not translate to real-world violence, telling Variety that the Netflix documentary Disclosure ironically explores the topic.

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