A growing controversy surrounding television icon Bill Cosby, who has been accused of rape by multiple women, puts plans for an upcoming NBC family sitcom built around Cosby in serious jeopardy.
Writing on Deadline.com, Nellie Andreeva reports: “Back in July, NBC executives touted the project as being on track for a series launch in summer or fall 2015. That plan may now be derailed by resurfaced rape accusations against the veteran comedian.”
Over the weekend a new rape accusation surfaced, with publicist Joan Tarshis writing on Hollywood Elsewhere that Cosby drugged and raped her twice when she was a 19-year-old aspiring actress in 1969, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Cosby has refused to talk about the accusations, and scheduled media appearances by the comedian — including one on “Late Show with David Letterman” — have been canceled.
“Ill-advised moves by the comedian — including last week’s Twitter stint asking fans to meme him that spawned a slew of rape-themed submissions and a painfully uncomfortable NPR interview in which Cosby dodged questions related to the accusations — made the situation a PR nightmare for the comedian,” Andreeva reports in her Deadline piece. To listen to a portion of that NPR interview, please click here.
With the recent focus on accusations of rape, it may be difficult for viewers — not to mention potential advertisers — to accept Cosby as a “lovable grandfather dispensing advice,” Andreeva notes.
NBC has a lot at stake as it seeks to reclaim the prime-time magic it experienced in the heyday of “The Cosby Show.”
“According to the deal, Cosby is owed a big penalty if the comedy doesn’t go to pilot,” Andreeva reports. “Because these are old allegations with little or no legal repercussions, the network may have to write Cosby a fat check if it kills the project. But the damage to NBC’s image — especially with parent Comcast priding itself as a family business holding strong moral values — could be pricier if it opts to continue.”
NBC has said the project remains in development, the report notes.
We urge you to click here to read all of Andreeva’s article.