EXCLUSIVE: Bill Cosby has signed with CAA, a move that ends a remarkable 48-year run at WMA and WME. CAA will rep the iconic performer in all areas. Most of Cosby’s recent activity has been in performing up to 100 live shows each year, and writing bestselling books. So WME’s loss here is mostly symbolic, but it is also an opportunity to note the 48 years he spent with former WMA head Norman Brokaw, who repped the groundbreaking comedian-turned-actor since the beginning of his career.
In terms of length, the only star-rep relationships that come to mind as comparisons are Lenny Hirshan and Clint Eastwood, and Elvis Presley and Col. Tom Parker. Brokaw (who never retired, by the way) handled Cosby back when he became the first African American to star in a network TV series, joining Robert Culp in I Spy. Cosby won three Emmy Awards in a row. And WMA and Brokaw guided Cosby in the creation of The Cosby Show, a mammoth hit that came along at a time when sitcoms were thought to be dinosaurs. NBC chief Brandon Tartikoff rode the Huxtable clan and Cheers to fuel the rise of Must See TV in the 1980s. For WMA, The Cosby Show became one of the most lucrative TV packages of its time, with the agency collecting 5% of a show that became a massive hit in syndication, generating a fortune for WMA and keeping the agency rolling in cash. Nowadays, TV packages don’t make nearly that much.
There was also Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids, the Jell-O ads, the comic tours, and the bestselling books. Cosby continues to develop projects with producing partner Darryl Bell, and while showbiz relationships always end for one reason or another, there’s nothing wrong with saluting the ones that last so long.