Evaluating the Demise of Bill Cosby -- Charlotte Lipman

By Charlotte Lipman WomenAdvancing Archives

At 77, Bill Cosby was poised for an eleventh hour comeback. A Netflix comedy special, an upcoming NBC sitcom and an active social and digital presence all had the comedian in the spotlight. Now with the resurfacing and new allegations of a sordid past, the Cosby comeback is anything but.

On November 18, in the wake of four women coming forward with rape allegations against Cosby, Netflix released a brief statement: “At this time we are postponing the launch of the new stand-up comedy special Bill Cosby 77.” Less than 24 hours later, NBC followed suit, announcing that “the Cosby project is no longer in development.”

Cosby’s two scheduled appearances on talk shows this month also ceased to be. The New York Times reported that Cosby cancelled his appearance on Queen Latifah’s syndicated daytime talk show. It is unclear whether or not he cancelled or was replaced by show producers on CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman.

TV Land pulled all reruns of The Cosby Show, scrapping plans for marathons around the Thanksgiving holiday. BET-owned Centric will continue airing the program – an interesting development seeing as both Centric and TV Land are cable properties of parent company Viacom, the current owner of television rights to The Cosby Show.

The media industry has responded to the media frenzy with procedural terseness. In the cases of Netflix and Viacom, there is no indication as to the length of time that the comedy special will be postponed and the reruns off-air.

It is obviously no surprise that networks would distance themselves from an accused rapist. Just this past October, UpTV pulled reruns of 7th Heaven after Stephen Collins, who played the pastor patriarch of that series, was revealed to have molested children in secret tape recordings.

I wonder how television insiders feel about disassociating from a much-loved comedian who lived out his most successful (and purportedly his most repugnant) years within the industry.

Despite all the horrors that Cosby’s victims report (and I believe them), I feel badly about Bill Cosby’s fall from grace. And I feel badly for feeling this way.

I met Bill Cosby at a French bakery in New York when I was twelve. I recognized him sitting at a table with a woman and after we made eye contact, he motioned to my sister and me to come over. I do not remember what specifically we spoke about (neither does my sister) but he was friendly, funny and everything you would have expected Bill Cosby (or rather the Bill Cosby of that time) to have been.

It is not that I was ever a mega fan of Bill Cosby’s but I liked him as an entertainer and comedian. I am struggling with tuning out the image of him as the ultimate sitcom dad with questionable sweater choices.

Reacting in this way (and I hope I’m not alone) makes me realize just how brave Cosby’s victims have been. First, to be prey to such a contemptible crime and second to live with it while Cosby’s career remained unfazed. It is no small feat to maintain one’s own dignity and credibility in coming forward with allegations that would mar a major comedy star’s reputation.

I feel sorry that errant claims of past decades have been largely discounted. The current amassed evidence, I believe, cannot be discredited and undoubtedly implicates guilt. Though with no physical proof existing, the case remains stuck in the court of public opinion.

Last month, nonagenarian and former NBC employee Frank Scotti revealed that Cosby paid off women and entertained young models in his dressing room during the run of The Cosby Show. “He had everybody fooled,” Scotti exclusively told the New York Daily News.

I am angry with Bill Cosby for fooling me and everyone else. On his fall to rock bottom, I remain ambivalent. I want to feel like he deserves it but I’m not there yet. And for that, maybe I’m the biggest fool.

Charlotte Lipman is Member Services Coordinator for MyersBizNet. She works to provideCharlotte Lipman MyersBizNet member companies with the resources to achieve their business goals. Charlotte can be reached at charlotte@jackmyers.com.

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