Netflix fires employee for leaking ‘sensitive’ information about Chappelle special

A person displays Netflix on a tablet
Netflix is dealing with fallout from Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special.
(Elise Amendola / Associated Press)

Netflix has fired an employee for allegedly leaking financial data that detailed how much the company paid for Dave Chappelle’s latest — and highly controversial — comedy special, “The Closer.”

The streaming service has been in the throes of a firestorm because of Chappelle’s incendiary remarks about trans and LGBTQ individuals in his special. The situation was exacerbated by the company’s flippant response to the backlash, which has irked Netflix employees, comics and others who have called for the hit stand-up special to be pulled from the platform.

“We have let go of an employee for sharing confidential, commercially sensitive information outside the company,” a Netflix spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter and Variety on Friday. “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.”


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Representatives for Netflix did not immediately respond to The Times’ request for comment.

Citing internal documents, Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Netflix paid $24.1 million for “The Closer,” with at least 10 million people watching it since it launched on Oct. 1. The article also said Netflix spent $23.6 million on Chappelle’s 2019 special, “Sticks & Stones,” and also publicized how much Netflix paid for Bo Burnham’s “Inside” ($3.9 million) and the runaway South Korean hit “Squid Game” ($21.4 million).

Netflix employees raised concerns about offensive material in Chappelle’s latest outing, which got him briefly “canceled” and has resulted in a PR nightmare for the streamer. The employees, some of whom have planned a walkout next week, reportedly warned executives that his jokes about gender-neutral pronouns and transgender genitalia was potentially inflammatory and damaging, Bloomberg reported.

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Earlier this week, Netflix suspended three employees for allegedly attending a quarterly business review meeting where executives would discuss the Chappelle special. Those employees have since been reinstated, but it’s unclear if any of them were the employee who was fired.

Comedian Hannah Gadsby, whose specials “Nanette” and “Douglas” are available on the platform, excoriated Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos Friday for issuing a memo that mentioned Gadsby as an example of the streamer’s diverse programming.

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In a strange turn of social-media events, Sarandos’ daughter, Sarah, came to her dad’s defense — and Chappelle’s.

“Just saying they are offensive jokes is too simple — they are really thought provoking, and as we all know, he is an equal opportunity provoker... everybody knows that about Dave Chappelle, Netflix likes that about Dave Chappelle, they’re standing by their original decision: they wanted a thought provoking special. Period,” she wrote on Instagram Stories Friday.