Netflix has fired an employee, alleging they shared confidential, commercially sensitive information about Dave Chappelle’s new standup special, The Closer, with media outlets, Variety reported.
The employee is accused of leaking data that appeared in Bloomberg about how much Netflix paid for a handful of shows and standup specials, including The Closer and previous Chappelle contracts. According to Bloomberg, Netflix spent $24.1 million on The Closer, compared with $23.6 million for his 2019 show, and just $3.9 million for Bo Burnham’s Emmy-winning special Inside. Squid Game, the biggest series debut in Netflix history, cost the company $21.4 million, the report said.
“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,” the company said in a statement to Variety.
Netflix employees and external equality groups — including GLADD and the National Black Justice Coalition — have called for The Closer to be removed from the streaming service, arguing it contains hateful transphobic and homophobic rhetoric. In the special, Chappelle doubles down on his previous transphobic comments and defends the bigotry of anti-trans feminist JK Rowling. As of now, the special is still available on Netflix.
“With 2021 on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States — the majority of whom are Black transgender people — Netflix should know better,” David Johns, executive director of the NBJC, said to CNN. “Perpetuating transphobia perpetuates violence. Netflix should immediately pull The Closer from its platform and directly apologize to the transgender community.”
Netflix executives have said little publicly about the controversy, though CEO Ted Sarandos reportedly said in an internal memo that The Closer was too popular to remove.
The fired employee was a leader of the company’s internal trans resource group, and was helping to organize a walkout in protest of Netflix’s handling of the Chappelle special, The Verge reported. The walkout is planned for October 20th. The former employee is Black and pregnant, and actually spoke out against leaks with colleagues, arguing that they could hurt the walkout, according to The Verge.
Earlier this month, Netflix suspended a trans software engineer who tweeted her disapproval of the Chappelle special. The employee was reinstated a day later and Netflix said the suspension was due to an unrelated matter.