- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 15, 2005

Dave: ‘I’m not crazy’

Associated Press

Comedian Dave Chappelle wants to set the record straight: “I’m not crazy, I’m not smoking crack,” he tells Time magazine in an interview more than a week after his hit Comedy Central show was suspended and the rumors started to fly.

“I’m definitely stressed out,” quotes Associated Press — citing the story in Time.

The magazine also states that Mr. Chappelle fled to South Africa last month for a “spiritual retreat,” leaving his fans — and even his agent and publicist — wondering where he went.

“You hear so many voices jockeying for position in your mind that you want to make sure that you hear your own voice,” the District native said. “So, I figured, let me just cut myself off from everybody, take a minute and pull a Flintstone — stop a speeding car by using my bare feet as the brakes.”

After Comedy Central announced that the planned May 31 debut of the third season of “Chappelle’s Show” had been postponed, Entertainment Weekly magazine reported that Mr. Chappelle had checked himself into a mental health facility in South Africa.

“[But] I’m not in a mental facility,” countered Mr. Chappelle, adding that he did not have a drug problem but had consulted a psychiatrist for one 40-minute visit.

The 32-year-old comedian said he fled to stay with friends in Durban because he wasn’t happy with the direction of the show, which is second only to “South Park” as Comedy Central’s most-watched program.

“There’s a lot of resistance to my opinions, so I decided, ‘Let me remove myself from this situation,’” Mr. Chappelle said.

Comedy Central President Doug Herzog told Time that the star has “complete creative freedom.” He also told staff members he believes there won’t be a “Chappelle’s Show” in 2005, but leaves the option open for the comedian’s return.

Mr. Chappelle, whose wife and two children live in Ohio, said he hopes to start up the show again, but did not indicate when that might be.

Comedy Central had inked a reported $50 million deal to keep “Chappelle’s Show” for two more seasons, and the comic hinted to Time about struggles associated with the power and fame that come with that kind of success.

“If you don’t have the right people around you, and you’re moving at a million miles an hour, you can lose yourself,” said Mr. Chappelle, who attended the District’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Northwest. “Everyone around me says, ‘You’re a genius, you’re great, that’s your voice,’ but I’m not sure that they’re right.”

New on Showtime

Zap2it.com

Showtime will open the TV adaptation of “Barbershop” for business in August, pairing it with “Weeds” in a Wednesday-night comedy block.

Both shows are set to debut Aug. 10, “Barbershop” at 10 p.m. and “Weeds” following at 10:30 p.m. The latter was originally scheduled to debut earlier in the summer, but Showtime appears to have learned from the likes of FX’s “Lucky” and its own “Fat Actress” that it’s not easy to launch a half-hour show by itself.

“Barbershop,” which will be executive produced by John Ridley (“Three Kings,” “Platinum”) and the movie’s producing team of George Tillman Jr., Robert Teitel and Ice Cube (who also starred in the films), will pick up where “Barbershop 2” ended, with Calvin (“Playmaker’s” Omar Gooding assuming Ice Cube’s role) having established his shop’s place as the center of his South Side Chicago neighborhood.

The series also stars Barry Shabaka Henley (“Collateral”), Gbenga Akinnagbe (“The Wire”), Anna Brown, John Wesley Chatham (“Girlfriends”), Leslie Elliard (Broadway’s “The Lion King”), Toni Trucks and Dan White.

“Weeds” stars Emmy winner Mary-Louise Parker (“Angels in America,” “The West Wing”) as a suburban mom who, after the death of her husband, sells pot to make ends meet. The show also features Kevin Nealon (“Saturday Night Live”), Elizabeth Perkins (“Big,” “Finding Nemo”) and Miss Parker’s “Angels” co-star, Justin Kirk.

Jury out on ‘L&O;’

TVguide.com

TV insiders are buzzing that when NBC unveils its new fall schedule today, “Law & Order: Trial by Jury” won’t be on it. The latest “L&O;” spinoff has been struggling on Friday nights, averaging a franchise-low of 11.2 million viewers. In other Peacock news, Variety is reporting that the network is considering moving “Joey” from Thursdays to Tuesdays in the fall. Also: It’s likely “The Office” will see a second season.

In concert on CBS

Billboard.com

CBS’ “The Early Show” has lined up seven musical performances that will be taped in its studios for later broadcast on the Wednesday editions of the show, Billboard magazine reports.

The segments will begin June 15 with the Backstreet Boys. Other acts slated to appear include Toby Keith (June 22), Ringo Starr (June 29), James Taylor (July 6), Neil Diamond (July 13), Carly Simon (July 20) and Fantasia (July 27).

Meanwhile, fellow network morning shows NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning America” will go head-to-head this summer with live performances in New York’s Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park, respectively.

Compiled by R. Denise Yourse from staff and wire reports.

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