Put in a very tough position, NBC has put the brakes on its Bill Cosby comedy. I have learned that the auspices involved in the project were told this morning that it is not going forward. The move is permanent, and the show, which was in early stages of development, is now dead.
NBC’s decision comes hours after Netflix last night announced it has shelved its Cosby standup special, slated for release next week, and as another woman came forward this morning, accusing the comedian of sexual assault, bringing the number to five.
The Cosby NBC multi-camera comedy project, executive produced by The Cosby Show‘s Tom Werner, would’ve had Cosby starring as Jonathan Franklin, a patriarch of a multigenerational family who shares his many years of wit, wisdom and experience to help his daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren navigate their complicated modern lives. In light of the slew of rape accusations, it would’ve probably been hard for viewers to accept Cosby as a lovable family man and for NBC to sell the project to advertisers.
According to sources, the initial deal involved a big penalty to Cosby if the comedy doesn’t go to pilot. I am told the network will not be paying a penalty over the decision to yank the project, at least not the full amount, as the two sides are expected to reach a settlement. I also hear Werner has waved the money he would be owed.
NBC had no other viable option but to kill the Cosby project under the circumstances, as the controversy was threatening to impact the network’s image, which had been held to a high standard given that parent Comcast prides itself as a family business with strong moral values.
As for Cosby, this will likely spell the end of his career in show business — a sad and disturbing final act that may destroy his legacy.