NBC scraps Cosby TV project
NEW YORK (AP) – NBC says it has scrapped a Bill Cosby comedy that was under development, the second outlet within a day to put off or abandon a Cosby project after another sexual assault allegation against the comic emerged.
NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks said Wednesday the project “is no longer under development,” and had no further comment.
Netflix announced late Tuesday that it was postponing the November 27 premiere of a new Cosby stand-up comedy special, giving no hint about whether it will ever be aired. Hours earlier in an interview with Entertainment Tonight, actress Janice Dickinson became the third woman in recent weeks to allege she’d been assaulted by Cosby – charges strongly denied by the comedian’s lawyer.
Dickinson told Entertainment Tonight that Cosby had given her red wine and a pill when they were together in a Lake Tahoe, California, hotel room in 1982. When she woke up the next morning, “I wasn’t wearing my pyjamas and I remembered before I passed out I had been sexually assaulted by this man.”
Cosby’s lawyer, Martin Singer, said in a letter to The Associated Press that Dickinson’s charges were “false and outlandish” and were contradicted by Dickinson herself in a published autobiography. Cosby’s spokesman, David Brokaw, has not returned calls for comment.
The spiralling scandal has threatened the 77-year-old comedian’s reputation as America’s TV dad at a time when he was launching a comeback. He has at least 35 performances scheduled throughout the US and Canada through May of 2015. None of the performances has been cancelled.
At one of the venues, the Sandusky State Theater in Sandusky, Ohio, there’s been no negative feedback, said David L. Taylor, the site’s executive director. There’s been one query from the community about whether the scheduled January 30 performance is still on.
“If the show were to cancel, everybody would obviously get full refunds,” Taylor said.
Additionally, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art has not changed its plans for an exhibition featuring Cosby’s African-American art collection alongside African artworks. The show opened this month on the National Mall and is scheduled to remain on view through early 2016.
“The exhibition has been very well received. We’ve actually had record numbers through the door,” spokesman Eddie Burke said, adding the museum has had no complaints.
NBC’s project, announced in January, was in the very early stages, without a script or commitment to production. But it would have brought Cosby back to the network where he had reigned in the 1980s with the top-rated The Cosby Show.
There’s some precedent for a network burying a project because of stories involving a star’s personal life. NBC shelved a two-hour TV movie, Frogmen, starring O.J. Simpson in 1994 after the former football star was implicated in his wife’s death.
Dickinson said she had met Cosby before Lake Tahoe when her agent had introduced them, hoping that she could get a job on The Cosby Show. The actress said she came to the resort where Cosby was performing at his urging after he said that he would help her with her singing career.
She said she had never confronted Cosby about the incident. Her spokesman did not return messages from the AP on Wednesday.
“I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do and this happened to me and this is a true story,” she said.
Yet Dickinson had told a different story in her 2002 autobiography, No Lifeguard on Duty: The Accidental life of the World’s First Supermodel.
In the book, Dickinson described stopping at his hotel room door when he invited her in after dinner. After she declined, Dickinson said Cosby told her, “After all I’ve done for you, this is what I get?” and slammed the door in her face.
She told Entertainment Tonight that Cosby and his lawyers pressured her and the publishers not to tell the real story.
Singer said the publisher sent the pages in Dickinson’s book about Cosby to Cosby’s publicist prior to publication.
“There was no mention of rape or sexual assault whatsoever,” Singer said. “Nobody tried to kill any sexual assault or rape story.”
He said the first Cosby heard of any assault allegation came in the Entertainment Tonight interview, and suggested Dickinson was “seeking publicity to bolster her fading career.”
Cosby, who was never criminally charged in any case, settled a civil suit in 2006 with another woman over an alleged incident two years before.