Chappelle sued over commissions

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A New York man who claims to have been Dave Chappelle's personal manager for nine months has sued the comedian for more than $850,000, a sum allegedly owed as commission on deals including the ill-fated renewal of Chappelle's Show on Comedy Central.

Mustafa Abuelhija alleges breach of contract and other claims against Chappelle and his production company, Pilot Boy Productions, as well as Focus Features for its role as purchaser of the film Dave Chappelle's Block Party, on which Abuelhija is demanding a producer credit.

According to the complaint, filed this week in US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Abuelhija claims that Chappelle made him his personal manager in August 2004. Abuelhija said he was promised 5 percent of the revenue from Chappelle's personal appearances as well as 10 percent of all revenue the comedian received through any entertainment deals.

The agreement was never put in writing, Abuelhija's suit said.

The lawsuit also purports to shed more light on Chappelle's lucrative deal with Comedy Central, reportedly worth an estimated $50 million, for the third and fourth seasons of Chappelle's Show.

According to Abuelhija, Chappelle received a $4.5 million nonrefundable upfront payment, 50 percent royalties on DVD and merchandising sales (retroactive to the first season's DVDs), $275,000 per episode, and about $25,000 per rerun.

Chappelle was expected to launch the third season last February, but that never happened, amid reports that he had ventured to Africa and sworn off further involvement with the series for unspecified reasons.

Abuelhija said he worked as Chappelle's personal manager through June 23, when he was fired.

His suit demands $113,000 in commissions for Chappelle's personal appearances, 10 percent of Chappelle's profits from Block Party, at least $611,500 from Chappelle's Show, and at least $140,000 from the Dave Chappelle: For What It's Worth DVD.

A spokeswoman for Chappelle did not return calls seeking comment.

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