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NBC The Latest To Distance Itself From Bill Cosby


Bad news keeps piling up for Bill Cosby. The latest - the cable channel TV Land announced today that it has dropped repeats of "The Cosby Show" from its lineup, and earlier in the day NBC said it has pulled the plug on a new sitcom series featuring Bill Cosby. This comes amid accusations from a growing number of women that the comic drugged and sexually assaulted them.

For more, we're joined by our TV critic, Eric Deggans. And Eric, the move by TV Land is the latest setback for Cosby. Tell us what you've learned.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Well, a TV Land spokesperson said that they've pulled the show from their lineup. It's not on their website anymore. There was a thanksgiving marathon including a bunch of shows that would have included "The Cosby Show." It's not airing there. They won't comment beyond that. They're not saying why they pulled the show, but given how controversial Cosby has become in the wake of these growing allegations of sexual assault, it's not hard to theorize why they might have done what they did.

BLOCK: Yeah, and as we mentioned, more bad news today from the network that originally aired "The Cosby Show," NBC.

DEGGANS: Right, exactly. They were developing this show with Cosby that was going to almost hearken back to his heyday in "The Cosby Show." He was going to be the patriarch of a huge multigenerational family - a grandfatherly figure. He had a producer who had worked on "The Cosby Show" who was going to do it with him along with some hot, young writers.

And NBC announced today that they're dropping that project as well. NBC also hasn't said why it's stopping the show, but Cosby has just become a magnet for criticism and comment since more women have come forward recently to make similar allegations about being drugged and sexually assaulted.

BLOCK: And Eric, that was the last major project - the NBC sitcom - that Cosby seemed to have on the horizon. It seems like TV networks and cable channels are saying he's just become too controversial for television.

DEGGANS: Well, we also saw Netflix announce that it has shelved a comedy special that was planned to celebrate his 77th birthday this year, and he's also cancelled appearances on "The Queen Latifah Show" and "Late Show With David Letterman."

I think there's a sense that he can't just go back to his career and ignore these allegations or give blanket denials like he has in the past. There's a group of people out there who feel his response to these allegations has not been adequate, and it's going to be tough for him to continue to do anything big like a movie or TV show where he has to interact with the press or interact with media until he provides a more detailed explanation.

BLOCK: Bill Cosby declined to talk about the allegations during an NPR interview over the weekend. That created still more headlines and, as we say, more and more women coming forward with allegations against him.

DEGGANS: Yeah. When Scott Simon talked to Cosby, four women had put their names to allegations that Cosby had drugged and raped them. And then, over the weekend, a fifth woman, 66-year-old publicist Joan Tarshis, told media outlets a similar story. And then on Tuesday former supermodel Janice Dickinson told "Entertainment Tonight" she was drugged and raped by Cosby in the early '80s, which his attorney has called a defamatory lie.

But as each of these allegations piles up, each one sparks a new wave of stories. And of course, there is a fear among some of these partners that there may be more women who come forward to make similar allegations, and they're backing away from that.

BLOCK: OK, NPR TV critic Eric Deggans. Eric, thank you.

DEGGANS: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eric Deggans is NPR's first full-time TV critic.

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