NBC defends hesitating to drop Bill Cosby during testy exchange with reporters
On Friday at a Television Critics Association panel, NBC was pressed to explain why they waited to drop Bill Cosby’s sitcom project, which the network ditched after a large number of women came forward to accuse the comedian of sexual assault. The network dropped the as-yet-untitled series project in November after defending being in business with the former Cosby Show star the previous summer.
“Fifteen women came out and accused him of what they accused him of,” entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt told reporters Friday. “While over the years we heard some those accusations and knew there were a couple settlements and what not, it didn’t seem to be the thing that was critical mass. When we realized there seemed to be so much more of it, it wasn’t something where we could go, ‘Oh, we’re not sure.’ He hasn’t been proven guilty of anything. I don’t want to be the one who says, ‘Guilty until proven innocent.’ But when that many people come out and have similar complaints, it causes such a tainted situation there was no way we could move forward with it. The good news is, unlike Netflix which had a special to run, we were developing a script—we didn’t even have a first draft … I’m glad we’re out from under that.”
A reporter pressed: What was the point at which it becomes “critical mass”?
“I guess what just happened two months ago.”
Reporter: “So 15 [women complaining] ‘Yes,’ two or three, ‘No’?”
“Yeah, you want me to put a number on it?” Greenblatt shot back, seeming irritated. “Fifteen ‘yes,’ two ‘no.’ Yeah, you want me to answer that question? All I can tell you is there’s a lot of people who have been in business with Cosby for 25 years and go ask them the same question. I just answered what I could answer. I didn’t think it was a problem until it became critical.”
The project, which was to be written by Glee star Mike O’Malley and sitcom veteran Mike Sikowitz, was to mark the return of “America’s Dad” to primetime TV. Last July, Greenblatt had told reporters about the situation: “All I do is try to put on shows that I think are good, with extraordinary talent. I think he’s extraordinary. And I think the show will be good. All the other things will sort of sort themselves out.”