The door is firmly shut to Bill Cosby's return to NBC, the network's top entertainment executive said Friday.
The door is firmly shut to Bill Cosby’s return to NBC, the network’s top entertainment executive said Friday.
“That’s safe to say,” NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt said Friday when asked if the network would ever again do a project with Cosby, who 30 years ago was the sitcom king with the network’s “The Cosby Show.”
NBC’s decision to sever ties with the 77-year-old comedian comes in the wake of multiple allegations of sexual assault against him, two lawsuits and a complaint to Los Angeles police earlier this week from a woman who says the comedian sexually abused her in 2008.
The network said late last year it was dropping plans to develop a “classic” family sitcom with him.
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The series was announced in mid-2014, before a rising tide of accusations against Cosby by women who say he drugged and assaulted them.
During a question and answer session with the Television Critics Association, Greenblatt was asked to explain what tipped the network against working with Cosby, who was publicly fending off allegations from two women a decade ago.
Cosby has not been charged in any of the alleged assaults and has denied them. In 2005, he settled a civil suit filed by one woman that included claims of battery and assault.
“Fifteen women came out and accused him of what they accused him of,” Greenblatt said. Although Cosby hasn’t been proven guilty of anything, “when that many people come out and have such similar complaints, it became a tainted situation” and the network didn’t want to proceed with the sitcom.
He’s glad NBC “is out from under that,” Greenblatt said.
Pressed to say precisely what number of accusers is seen as critical mass, Greenblatt replied: “Fifteen, yes, two no.”
Cosby has faced more career fallout, including Netflix’s decision to indefinitely postpone a comedy special and the cancellation of concerts in his ongoing tour.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump said Friday that no consideration was given to editing the opening episode of the current season of “Celebrity Apprentice” in light of the Cosby controversy.
In that episode, filmed before the recent spate of allegations against Cosby became public, his former TV “daughter” Keshia Knight Pulliam was eliminated from the competition by Trump because she refused to call Cosby for help with her charity. The timing of the episode, which aired in January, became awkward.
“We didn’t want to make any changes,” said Trump, the show’s star. “We’re very happy with it. It became a very, very big topic of conversation.”
AP Television Writer David Bauder contributed to this report.
Lynn Elber can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.