Former CBS exec Robert Wussler is leading a management group partnered with Bill Cosby in his bid to acquire NBC, according to a magazine article that follows a flurry of coverage on the matter (Daily Variety, June 15).
The August issue of Vanity Fair, in a detailed profile of the comic, reports that Cosby and Wussler are seeking a high-profile executive to join in the effort, having previously floated the name of former NBC Entertainment chief Brandon Tartikoff.
Reports leaked last month that Cosby had retained investment banking firm Goldman Sachs & Co. to handle his pursuit of NBC and were fueled by the once and future NBC star’s cryptic response that “I am not in the habit of commenting on things that are not finished.”
Cosby’s representative, William Morris Agency chairman Norman Brokaw, sounded a similar theme responding to the article, issuing a statement noting that Cosby had not cooperated with the profile, which “speaks to his desire to keep this unfinished business close to the vest.”
General Electric, which owns NBC, has stated repeatedly in recent months that the network is not for sale, though the magazinemaintains that Cosby and the Wussler group are proceeding, trying to put together a bid in the $ 4 billion range.
In the article Tartikoff likens Cosby’s bid for NBC to Ross Perot’s quest for the presidency, and Wall Street sources generally dismissed the prospect of a deal when the story resurfaced last month.
Wussler, who declined comment, left his position as president-CEO at Comsat Video Enterprises last year, having joined the company in 1989 after a stint as exec VP and second in command to Ted Turner at Turner Broadcasting System. Before that he spent more than two decades at CBS.
One source said an “elite group” of showbiz and business executives are connected with the group.