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NBC just became the latest company to turn on Bill Cosby. On Wednesday, the network announced that it has dropped plans to have the veteran comedian return to primetime. Writers on the show were informed today that the sitcom starring Cosby as the head of a family would not be moving forward to series. The NBC sitcom is not the first Cosby project that has been dumped following recent rape allegations.
Over the past year, Bill Cosby has seen his public profile grow. Way back in January, the older comedian worked out a deal with NBC to return to network television. By August, NBC was moving forward with a pilot, hiring writer Mike O’Malley. The sitcom would have followed Cosby as Jonathan Franklin, a wizened old man who dispenses advice to several generations of his family, including kids and grandkids. Also in August, Cosby worked out a deal with Netflix to bring a comedy special to the streaming service. But as the rape allegations heightened, Cosby has found these lucrative deals getting dropped.
EW broke the news, also noting that Bill Cosby has been dodging rape accusations since the 1970s, but none of them really made their way into the public eye until last month, when Hannibal Buress went out of his way to call Cosby a rapist. The video went viral, and the spotlight was turned on the comedian. Since then, at least 13 women have come forward as potential victims, and three of them, Barbara Bowman, journalist Joan Tarshis and former model and fashionista Janice Dickinson, have publicly spoken out about being forced to engage in sexual activity with the actor. Regardless of what happened with Cosby in each of these individual circumstances, the press surrounding the comedian right now just isn’t good.
A few days ago, Cosby’s Late Show appearance was canceled after the allegations came to light. Then yesterday, Netflix said the planned comedy special has been shelved just a few days before its release. (Bill Cosby 77 was expected to hit the streaming service next week, on Friday November 28). That left NBC with a big decision to make, and today the network made it.
Of all the projects Bill Cosby had going, NBC's had the most at stake. The network poured plenty of money into making Bill Cosby a thing again, signing on a well-known TV name in Mike O'Malley to get the project off the ground and ordering a pilot months ago. But airing the series might have been a true disaster for NBC, a network which already has enough problems without bringing Bill Cosby into it.