In spring of 2005, Chappelle stunned fans — and Comedy Central — by abruptly quitting his popular sketch series on the heels of signing a $50-million contract with the network. For reasons that still remain unclear, Chappelle went to South Africa during production of the show's third season and reportedly cut off contact with some family members and close advisors. Comedy Central scrambled to fill the time slot and announced it was indefinitely postponing the third-season premiere of its No. 2 show after "South Park." "It's crushing on a lot of levels," network President Doug Herzog told The Times in 2005. "There's no question about it, he was the hottest thing on the network.... It's tough to lose your big power hitter like that."
Jennifer S. Altman / For the Los Angeles Times
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