Bill Cosby: Career and legacy fades as Netflix and NBC shelve projects
WASHINGTON, November 19, 2014 – Bill Cosby and his lawyers are relying on an expired statue of limitations as their defense against recent allegations that would appear to peg the beloved comedian as a serial rapist. However, the Court of Public Opinion−the same one that’s put an end to careers of football, music and television personalities in the past−is not so forgiving. Nor does it have a statue of limitations.
Person involved in the evolving NBC comedy series set to star Bill Cosby were told this morning that the project is not going forward. That new show would have put Cosby into the role of Jonathan Franklin, a grandfather supplying his wit and wisdom to a multi-generational family.
The move is final, according to the network, and the show, which was in its early stages of development, is now officially dead reports Deadline.com. The decision to cancel comes on the heals of Netflix’ announcement that it has put Cosby’s standup special back on the shelf just one week before its scheduled release. In the case of NBC, the network wisely sees that viewers and advertisers would be hard pressed to accept Cosby in the role of lovable father and and grandfather after the current spate of negative news and accusations.
The fact that Cosby is suddenly losing these shows offers little in the way of compensation for his accusers. However, the sudden loss of his hallowed public status may provide them with some solace. But it won’t all be a loss for Cosby. According to several sources, his initial deal involved a substantial penalty if the proposed comedy series were unable go to pilot. It’s likely, then, that the network will have to pay Cosby for halting development of the show.
As for Cosby himself, this sudden spate of serious allegations will likely spell the end of a fabled career that stretches way back to his first starring role on I Spy in the 1960s, which marked the first ever appearance of a black actor as a regular TV series character.
Later, Cosby made a triumphant return in his long-running The Bill Cosby Show. The popular sitcom portrayed the life and funny times of an affluent African-American family, headed by Cosby as a physician. Airing from 1984 to 1992, it was widely praised for providing a sterling role model for the successful black family of the post-Civil Rights era. It was also one of the 1980’s top sitcoms, and was the number one show in America from 1985-1989.
Other Cosby projects have included Kids The Darndest Things, Fat Albert, and A Different World. Cosby has also had a long and prosperous career on the stage, performing standup and, more recently, sit-down, routines across the country.
As for the 77 year-old Cosby’s future, recovery from this incident is highly unlikely at this point in his career. We may very well be witnessing his final curtain. But more importantly, this may also mark the obliteration of his legacy as one of the first pioneering African-American superstars.
Bill Cosby stats as compiled by Wikipedia:
Awards and honors
- 1969: Received his third Man of the Year award from Harvard University’s performance group the Hasty Pudding Theatricals
- 1991: Induction into the Television Hall of Fame
- 1998: Received the Kennedy Center Honor
- 2002: The Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to television
- 2002: The scholar Molefi Kete Asante included him in his book The 100 Greatest African Americans.
- 2003: The Bob Hope Humanitarian Award
- 2005: In a British poll to find the Comedian’s Comedian, he was voted among the top-50 comedy acts ever by fellow comedians and comedy insiders
- 2010: Received the Lone Sailor Award by the United States Navy Memorial
- 2009: Presented with the 12th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor
- 2011: Made an honorary Chief Petty Officer (Hospital Corpsman) in the United States Navy
Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series – Primetime Emmys
1966 I Spy – Alexander Scott
1967 I Spy – Alexander Scott
1968 I Spy – Alexander Scott
Outstanding Variety Or Musical Program – Primetime Emmys
1969 The Bill Cosby Special
Best Comedy Performance – Grammy Awards
1965 I Started Out as a Child
1966 Why Is There Air?
1969 To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With
1987 Those of You with or Without Children, You’ll Understand
Best Recording for Children – Grammy Awards
1972 Bill Cosby Talks to Kids About Drugs
1971 The Electric Company – Cast member
Cosby has received honorary degrees from more than a dozen colleges and universities:
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Boston University, May 18, 2014.
- Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Marquette University, May 19, 2013.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, December 5, 2008.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Carnegie Mellon University, May 20, 2007; he was also the keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony.
- Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music, May 8, 2004. Cosby was also the host of the school’s 60th Anniversary Concert in January 2006.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Baylor University, September 4, 2003, at the “Spirit Rally” for the Baylor and Central Texas communities.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Yale University, May 26, 2003.
- Honorary Degree in 2003 presented by President William Harjo LoneFight from the Sisseton Wahpeton College on the Lake Traverse Reservation for his contributions to minority education.
- Honorary Doctorate from West Chester University of Pennsylvania during the 2003 graduation ceremony.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Haverford College, May 2002.
- Honorary Degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Cincinnati in 2001.
- Honorary Doctorate from Amherst College, May 1999. (Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa)
- Honorary Doctorate from Colgate University, May 22, 1999; he was also the keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony.
- Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Southern California, May 8, 1998.
- Cosby served as the commencement speaker and received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the University of Connecticut, May 18, 1996.
- Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Swarthmore College, 1995.
- Honorary LL.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, 1990. He also served as the commencement speaker in May 1997.