US TELEVISION giant NBC has scrapped a Bill Cosby comedy that was under development while station TV Land will stop airing reruns of The Cosby Show, following claims from women that he sexually assaulted them.
A NBC spokeswoman said the Cosby sitcom “is no longer under development” and a TV Land representative said the reruns would be taken off air immediately for an indefinite time. The Cosby Show was to have been part of a Thanksgiving sitcom marathon.
It follows a decision by Netflix to postpone a Cosby stand-up comedy special indefinitely.
The moves came a day after model Janice Dickinson, in an interview with chat show Entertainment Tonight, became the third woman in recent weeks to allege she had been assaulted by Cosby – charges strongly denied by the comedian’s lawyer.
Ms 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.”
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Cosby’s lawyer, Martin Singer, said in a letter that Ms Dickinson’s charges were “false and outlandish” and were contradicted by Ms Dickinson herself in a published autobiography.
The developments, which involve allegations that were widely reported a decade ago as well as new accusations, have damaged the 77-year-old comedian’s reputation as America’s TV father at a time when he was launching a comeback.
Women have come forward publicly to accuse him of sexual assault previously.
Cosby has never been charged in connection with any of the allegations. Former Pennsylvania prosecutor Bruce Castor., who investigated a woman’s claims that Cosby had sexually assaulted her in 2004, said he decided not to prosecute because he felt there was not enough evidence to get a conviction.
“I wrote my opinion in such a way as I thought conveyed to the whole world that I thought he had done it, he had just gotten away with it because of a lack of evidence,” the former Montgomery County district attorney said.
If Cosby had not been co-operative with the investigation, “I probably would have arrested him,” he said.
Cosby was asked about the growing furore when he was promoting an exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art that features the comedian’s African-American art collection alongside African artworks. Cosby declined to comment, saying: “We don’t answer that.”
Netflix, TV Land and NBC cut ties and an appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman was cancelled. Cosby has continued working as a stand-up comic, and has at least 35 performances scheduled in the US and Canada between now and May.
None of the performances has been cancelled.
A year ago, a stand-up special – his first in 30 years – aired on Comedy Central and drew an audience of two million viewers. His prospective new series was announced by NBC in January.
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