In a surprise announcement Wednesday, Comedy Central announced that the highly anticipated third season of Dave Chappelle's show will not make its May 31 premiere date.
"Comedy Central has suspended production on the third season of Chappelle's Show until further notice," network spokesman Tony Fox said in a brief statement. "All parties are optimistic that production will resume in the near future."
No official reason was given for the shutdown, but sources told E! News that Chappelle has been MIA from the set for weeks. There was no indication on how long the suspension would last.
In December, the network said that Chappelle's Show was behind schedule after Chappelle fell ill, forcing the network to postpone the expected February debut of new episodes.
"Dave--and his entire production crew for that matter--got a bit of a late start on writing season three," Fox told the New York Post. Production was slated to resume in January.
Last August, Chappelle, 31, reupped with Comedy Central in a massive two-year deal, valued at $50 million by the Hollywood Reporter. The deal also set a new Industry precedent--reportedly giving the funnyman a large cut of backend DVD sales.
Featuring Chappelle's often raunchy standup, offbeat sketches and killer parodies of Prince and Rick James, Chappelle's Show has steadily built a huge following since its January 2003. By the end of season two, the half-hour show was often pulling in more than three million viewers, a substantial number for basic cable. The first season currently ranks as the all-time top-selling TV show on DVD. (Paramount has indefinitely pushed back the release of the second season--the studio hopes to time the DVD to the start of season three.)
In addition to his gig at Comedy Central, Chappelle had been working on a book for Hyperion. There has been no word on the book's status; there's also no word on the reported Rick James biopic for Paramount in which Chappelle would portray the late R&B wild man.