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‘Cosby’ will leave air on Eye net next month

Laffer's finale to air April 28

CBS is saying goodbye to “Cosby.”

As first reported Friday by Variety.com, the Bill Cosby laffer, produced by Carsey-Werner, will call it quits next month following a four-season run on the Eye.

Skein’s finale — filmed several weeks ago — is skedded to air Friday, April 28, at 8:30 p.m. The half-hour episode will be a regular seg without any series-ending hoopla.

Declining ratings that followed the show’s September move out of its 8 p.m. Monday slot are largely responsible for the decision to end the series.

“I’m going out with the graduating class of 2000,” Cosby said. “I wish we could have done better for CBS.”

While “Cosby” never approached the stratospheric success of Cosby’s classic mid-1980s laffer, the show provided a major boost to the Eye at a time when the net truly needed a lift.

CBS Television prexy and CEO Leslie Moonves was effusive in his praise of Cosby.

“I will forever be in Bill Cosby’s debt,” Moonves said. “He came here in 1995 at a time when the network was deep in third place. His signing was a symbol to the creative community that the best and the brightest still wanted to call CBS home. And, the success of his series revitalized our Monday night, which was the catalyst for moving the network back to the top of the standings.

Part of ‘CBS family’

“Everyone at CBS is proud that Bill chose to bring ‘Cosby’ here,” Moonves added. “And we’re thrilled that he will still be an important part of the CBS family.”

The Eye still has several outstanding series and pilot commitments with Cosby. No decision has been made yet on a renewal for the Cosby-hosted “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”

When it premiered during the 1996-97 season, “Cosby” was averaging 16 million viewers weekly in the Eye’s 8 p.m. Monday slot. It averaged a still-healthy 13.6 million and 12.4 million viewers, respectively, during its second and third seasons.

Show took a major Nielsen hit, however, when it was moved to Wednesdays last fall.

Another move, to Fridays, didn’t help. So far this season, “Cosby” is averaging just 8.9 million viewers.

By contrast, “The Cosby Show” remains one of the most-watched skeins in TV history. Airing from 1984-92, Cosby’s NBC effort was TV’s top-rated show for four seasons, hitting a high point during the 1987-88 season when a single seg attracted a whopping 46.7 million viewers.

Cosby followed his NBC show with the short-lived drama skein “The Cosby Mysteries.” It ran during the 1994-95 season on NBC.

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