NBC Pulls the Plug on Bill Cosby Comedy Project Amid Rape Allegations
The network hoped to cast the 77-year-old comedian in another classic sitcom
An insider confirmed to PEOPLE that the project is no longer in development for summer or fall 2015. The idea came from Mike O’Malley (Glee) and Mike Sikowitz and was only in the early stages; the duo hadn’t even delivered a script.
The hope was for Cosby to play a patriarch of a multi-generational family in a classic family sitcom, and there was even talk of O’Malley playing one of the sons-in-law.
But that was before a new round of sexual assault allegations surfaced about the man everyone thought was the perfect TV dad. The most recent person to come forward is Janice Dickinson, who told Entertainment Tonight that Cosby drugged and raped her more than 30 years ago.
The NBC project would have brought Cosby back to the network that made him a mega-star in the ’80s and ’90s. When he headlined The Cosby Show from 1984 to 1992, the actor was revered and beloved by everyone there.
“He was the god at NBC,” says one executive who worked there at the time. “He was obviously our most important piece of talent.”
Though Cosby has remained mum about the allegations over the past week, he did retain attorney Martin Singer, who released this statement about Dickinson’s claims:
“There is a glaring contradiction between what she is claiming now for the first time and what she wrote in her own book and what she told the media back in 2002. Ms. Dickinson did an interview with the New York Observer in September 2002 entitled ‘Interview With a Vamp’ completely contradicting her new story about Mr. Cosby.
“That interview a dozen years ago said ‘she didn’t want to go to bed with him and he blew her off.’ Her publisher Harper Collins can confirm that no attorney representing Mr. Cosby tried to kill the alleged rape story (since there was no such story) or tried to prevent her from saying whatever she wanted about Bill Cosby in her book. The only story she gave 12 years ago to the media and in her autobiography was that she refused to sleep with Mr. Cosby and he blew her off. Documentary proof and Ms. Dickinson’s own words show that her new story about something she now claims happened back in 1982 is a fabricated lie.”
Cosby is currently on a comedy tour that’s taking him throughout the United States. He’s set to appear in Melbourne, Florida, on Friday. The concert is sold out.
• With reporting by ELIZABETH LEONARD