NBC Pulls Bill Cosby Comedy Project Amid Rape Allegations

NBC has dropped its Bill Cosby comedy project as the scandal of rape allegations leveled at the comedian by multiple women made it untenable for the network to keep it in development, according to multiple sources.

Sources said writers and producers on the untitled project were informed Wednesday morning that it would not be going forward. NBC confirmed Wednesday that the project was no longer in development but would not comment further.

NBC cut a rich deal with Cosby last summer to star in a new comedy that would feature him in his familiar family patriarch role. The project marked a reunion for Cosby and Tom Werner, the producer whose Carsey-Werner Co. banner produced the comedian’s blockbuster 1980s NBC sitcom and his CBS sitcom from the late 1990s.

NBC set the deal with Cosby and Werner directly last summer. Sony Pictures TV came in as the studio to develop the script with scribes Mike O’Malley and Mike Sikowitz. The studio was not believed to have turned in a finished script to the network.

NBC’s move comes on the heels of Netflix’s decision to delay the release of an hourlong comedy special, “Bill Cosby 77,” that had been set to premiere on Nov. 28.

In a sign of Cosby’s clout, the NBC deal called for the network to pay a hefty penalty fee directly to Cosby if the project did not get ordered as a pilot.

Also Wednesday, a lawyer for Cosby blasted the latest accusation of rape aired against the comedian on Tuesday by former model Janice Dickinson. Attorney Martin Singer said Dickinson’s claims of being assaulted in 1982 were a “fabricated lie,” and he denied other aspects of the story she told on Tuesday’s edition of “Entertainment Tonight.” Another Cosby attorney, John P. Schmitt, on Sunday issued a statement describing the claims of two other women as “discredited allegations.”

The loss of the NBC deal is a blow to the 77-year-old comedian’s legacy. Cosby was single-handedly credited with reviving not only NBC’s fortunes but the sitcom form itself in 1984 when “The Cosby Show” became a blockbuster hit out of the gate.

Moreover, “Cosby Show” has widely been credited with advancing the cause of race relations in America as a broad range of viewers embraced the domestic comedy about a middle-class African-American family.

Cosby has even deeper credentials as a TV pioneer. He was the first African-American actor to land a starring role in a drama series, toplining the 1965-68 NBC drama “I Spy” opposite Robert Culp, and he was the first African-American to win a lead drama actor Emmy for his work on the show. Cosby won the trophy for “I Spy” three years in a row.

Cosby has long been revered by other comedians, and admired for quietly earning two advanced degrees in education from the University of Massachusetts in the 1970s while still working in showbiz. On “Cosby Show” and other programs, Cosby’s on-screen producing credit read “Dr. William H. Cosby, Ed.D.”

In recent years, Cosby was often publicly critical over what he saw as the coarser aspects of contemporary African-American culture. Those criticisms spurred comedian Hannibal Buress to slam Cosby during a standup performance in Philadelphia (Cosby’s hometown) in October in which Buress flatly called Cosby “a rapist.”

A video of Buress’ performance was widely seen via YouTube and other outlets in recent weeks, which helped instigate the stream of women coming forward with stories of being drugged and raped by Cosby. The similarities of the stories going back as far as 1969 raise disturbing questions including whether industry leaders close to Cosby were aware of the allegations.

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  1. Ronie says:

    It seems to me that many of you are proving him innocent and doing the opposite of those of you proving him guilty. I don’t know which one he is, only he and God know the truth. We all have to hold our judgments for this reason. Let’s face it, we probably will never know the truth….Sad situation!!

  2. Don_in_Odessa says:

    Guilty until proven innocent? Wasn’t supposed to be this way in America. And, isn’t it interesting that no sooner than Cosby has some words of wisdom for the black community, as unpopular as they were, thirty year old accusations resurface. Just sayin’. There may be more to this than meets the eye.

    American law, the law that was written to protect freedom, says a man is innocent until proven guilty. The people who have decided to not air Cosby’s shows are actually supporting a communist policy, “guilty until proven innocent”.

    • Jamal says:

      “Isn’t it interesting that No SOONER than Cosby has some wordds of wisdom for the Black Community, as unpopular as they were, thirty year old accusations resurface”. Huh… Are you kidding me? That was more than ten years ago. If these accusations are a form of retribution against Mr. Cosby it’s more likely a result of his badmouthing Donald Trump on Good Morning America back in 2011 in reference to Trump considering at the time campaigning for the presidency or Mr. Cosby having positive things to say about Muslims and that Blacks would do good to emulate their behavior and lifestyles in 2013.

    • Let's get real says:

      NBC GAVE INTO A ROARING IGNORANT CROWD WITH PITCH FORKS! And, all the news channels are the witch hunters!

      I’m glad I don’t work in TV. Idiots.

      And, Janice Dickinson is the biggest person who’s made the allegations, welllllllll, that’s not a good thing for the women claiming rape. Since, it’s obvious to everyone but the news media that Ms. Dickinson has the credibility of a sleazy car sales man. I have met people that have been around Ms. Dickinson and they told me that she is an over the top and does anything for attention. These personality trates are obvious in her reality show, yet all the news networks are running with it as if she is a legit source. What the hell!

      Bill Cosby is not athletic and he’s not a male model. I have no doubt that he may have acted sleazy. That doesn’t make him a rapist. He’s to damned smart to do the things these women claimmmmmmmmm. Any person with a shred of common sense would pick up on that. These women had sex with him, were later disgusted at giving into to his fame and when he tried to diss them they flipped out.

      Just because he got several complaints that are the same doesn’t make it true. All the women were just in similar situations and left the whole truth. I’m no spring chicken and all of us out there have met several people who don’t tell the entire story and take things out of context. I mean who would admit to having sex with this guy. They fell for his stardom, were disgusted by his ego and wanted to take back having sex with him.

      I can’t watch the news anymore with all their drama on attacking this man who has a high percentage of being innocent. Oh, and JANICE DICKINISON, who has been known to be full of it.

  3. spinner99 says:

    For someone who made his career from talking and being really wise about it – it is strange he just shook his head and was just silent in NPR interview. He could have easily just deny it and move on.

    He is 77 years old with 350 million dollars. If it was not true you would think he would spend some money to sue some of these women for defamation because it is reputation and business empire at risk. He lost many millions from losing NBC project and now his netflix show being shelved. Surely suing in court would have cost tiny fraction of that. Celebrities have sued tabloids for less. But strange silence.

    Also when you are that old with that much money I would think you would do everything in your power to save your reputation because that is part of your legacy. Does he want to be known to friends and families and fans as serial rapist if it was not true? These are people that look up to him idolize him as America’s dad and suspiciously he stays silent and let them believe these serious accusations.

    The point is he may never be given a TV or business project ever again because of this. But Cosby stays silent and does not sue these women and prove they are liars. He is rich and powerful and maybe Cosby is also a coward who does not want to face and look in their eyes these women he raped in court. He is doing what guilty rich person does and hide behind his lawyers hoping people will forget.

    Don’t you think defending your reputation is worth time and money especially in hollywood where your reputation is everything?

    So you still think he is innocent? Hes waiting for ignorant people to just forget.

    • Eric says:

      Pretty difficult for him to “prove” he didn’t do something that allegedly happened decades ago. Not saying he is or isn’t innocent (I have no idea), but I don’t think you can infer anything from him not filing a suit. I can see why he wouldn’t want to sue and deal with this story automatically dragging on for years during the pendency of the lawsuit. Lawsuits are nasty, expensive and very time consuming. You can’t just file one and clear your name overnight.

  4. dd says:

    I just finished watching “The View” and one of the ladies(Sharon, Julie, etc) made a comment regarding the latest rape allegations made against Bill Cosby, quote” is Bill going to deny having sex with Janice”.?
    Rape is not about sex, it is about having “power” over that individual. Whoever on that show that made that comment needs to watch the show SVU and or read literature from any Rape Crisis Center. DONT give your opinion if you don’t know the subject matter is, and don’t come off so cocky like you know it all.
    San Antonio Texas resident

    • liz says:

      In my 40 + years, I have read about many men from all walks of life, powerful men, poor men, rich men, etc who have been accused of rape. As a former rape crisis advocate, “sex” is not part of the equation. It “IS” all about power and control over their victims. And, isn’t Bill Crosby JUST a man?
      Regardless of his fame, public persona, and past good deeds, only he knows the truth.

  5. Jim Hilton says:

    I am devastated learning the news about Bill Cosby. He has been one of my favorites since I Spy. So sorry to see his career end this way.

    • Michael Anthony says:

      How true. The stories have been around for decades. Money and lawyers kept it quiet, until now.

      • Jan Bannan says:

        I guess I don’t flame him for not responding to the allegations. It seems in cases like this where someone is accused of something there is no good response. If they say nothing, “they must be guilty’. If they deny it, well of course they would and “they must be guilty”. If they get angry, “they are over reacting because they must be guilty”.
        I’m sure over the years of his public life, Mr. Cosby has probably been threatened and black-mailed more than once. The first thing that came to my mind when I saw this was that the left-leaning media and black community really didn’t like his recent stand regarding the direction of the corsening of the African American community. I knew when I heard him that it would come back to haunt him. Too bad because he had a valid point.
        I feel terrible for him if this is all fabricated. It would be almost impossible to disprove because it was alleged to have happened so long ago. That’s why there are statues of limitations on most crimes. Its difficult, if not impossible, to prove a negative. Good Luck, Bill.

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