“I am not a Cosby fan. I don’t like him — for many reasons. I have a specific reason, and it wasn’t because of anything like you are thinking,” Donald Trump told TV critics this morning at TCA Winter TV Press Tour 2015. The comment came in response to a question as to whether Trump has had second thoughts about NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice having not edited this season’s first episode, in which Trump fired Keishia Knight Pulliam (aka The Cosby Show’s Rudy Huxtable) for having failed to hit up Bill Cosby for her charity bake sale assignment.
“You’d like to hear it,” Trump snarked when a reporter asked why he so disliked Cosby, but stuck with “I don’t like him for a specific reason,” while continuing to insist he’d made the right call in firing Pulliam over failure to contact Cosby to try to separate him from some of his money. “I really believe, if you’d called that gentleman, he would’ve helped you, even if you hadn’t spoken to him in years, because you were an amazing team with one of the most successful shows ever,” Trump had said on the season debut.
That episode was, of course, shot back when NBC still was looking to bring back some The Cosby Show comedy-genre-resuscitating magic, making a deal to develop a new half-hour family comedy to star Cosby as a family patriarch. And yet, the morning after that Cosby reference on Celebrity Apprentice, media also had — naively — called it “worst timing possible,” “baffling,” etc. NBC finally iced its Cosby comedy-series project as more women came forward claiming he’d drugged and assaulted them. Trump this morning reiterated the timing of the taping today at the show’s Press Tour Q&A.
“That show was shot a little before the whole big revelation came out. So when we shot it his situation came out after that, and we didn’t want to do any changes,” adding, “It became a very big topic of conversation.”
It was the second debate about Cosby in the first three Q&A sessions of today’s NBC appearance at Press Tour. Earlier in the day, NBC Entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt was savaged for not having pulled the plug earlier on his Cosby comedy project.
TV critics also nicked Trump this morning for calling The Celebrity Apprentice the No. 1 show which, under questioning, he refined to say it was No. 1 in its night in the 18-49 demographic . One reporter asked Trump whether, if producers of CBS’s Mike & Molly claimed to be No. 1 in the demo the past couple weeks, those producers would be incorrect. Trump said he had been repeating what he’d been told.
Nearly two years after the previous season of The Celebrity Apprentice debuted, the reality competition, in which celebs raise money for their fave charity, returned with a bang earlier this month – opening its 14th cycle with a 2.3 in 18-49, up 35% from its Season 13 opener on March 3, 2013. The new installment was filmed almost a year ago and the season debut included appearances by former winner Joan Rivers, as well as that headline-grabbing praise for Cosby. The result: NBC’s highest 18-49 rating in the 9-11 PM time period with regular entertainment programming in two years, since January 6, 2013, when another preview of a long-running reality series, The Biggest Loser, logged a 3.0.
This morning, to goose Celebrity Apprentice ratings going forward, Trump touted Rivers’ return in next week’s episode, which he modestly said was maybe the franchise’s best episode ever.
“When she left my office, I said, ‘She’ll be around forever’,” Trump said today. It’s one of two more appearances by Rivers in this cycle of the competition reality series, which Trump said would be an “in memoriam” for the comic and Bravo show star, who died in August after experiencing complications while undergoing a scheduled minor throat procedure at an outpatient clinic in Manhattan.
“Joan Rivers busted her ass for other people,” The Celebrity Apprentice exec producer Mark Burnett said this morning, calling her “a true American.”
Trump knows how to make news. These days he’s in the news for announcing which sports franchises he’s not buying — today it’s the Brooklyn Nets. And CNN reported a few days ago that Trump had sued the “malicious” Palm Beach, FL airport for $100 million, accusing the county-run airport of deliberately sending air traffic over his mansion and private club because the local airport director was seeking revenge for a 20-year-old lawsuit. But Trump’s never topped his appearance at NBC’s May 2011 upfront presentation when he became THE big news of Broadcast Upfront Week, announcing, “I will not be running for president — see you for a great season [of Celebrity Apprentice]!” That was the year The Donald said he was mulling a run at the White House and held a news conferences to take credit for the release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate.
And, because no appearance of Kate Gosselin would be complete without giving her an opening to talk about what a burden is her life (she’s one of this season’s competitors on the show), she wa asked which was harder, competing on Celebrity Apprentice or raising all those kids. Extra points if you can guess the answer:
” I wish I could be in Celebrity Apprentice every day,” Gosselin sighed. “It was a lot easier,” she said, adding that the stress and pressure in the show is only what she feels in her everyday life. “Even sitting here now is a great break,” she said.