Should Netflix Cancel Cosby Special?

Others, ranging from Queen Latifah to David Letterman, backed away from Bill Cosby or let him do it for them. But Bloomberg says that Netflix still intends to go forward with a Bill Cosby comedy special, “Bill Cosby Live at 77,” available on the online service starting Nov. 28.

The title refers to his age, not the number of rape accusations against him, although they seem to be growing daily. The comedy special was taped in July in San Francisco, before rape accusations resurfaced in a big way.

It seems truly unfashionable to say this, but I don’t know if these accusations are true. I know absolutely nothing about them.

It also might sound awful to say something like this, but neither do you, unless you are Bill Cosby or one of his accusers.  

But it does seem like that without any charges against Cosby, the comedian and the public are just left with litter, like an intersection car crash with lots of damage. There’s a spoiled reputation for Cosby, and assuming the charges are true, lives that have been been terribly altered by crimes that went unpunished and unrepented.



I’ll assume by now you know most of the details. Cosby was accused of rape previously, and settled with his accuser, who also gathered nine other “Jane Doe” victims. Now, onetime aspiring actress Barbara Bowman said in a Washington Post op-ed that Cosby also raped her, several times, beginning in 1985. She has said that for the last decade or so. A publicist, Joan Tarshis, now says she also was raped by Cosby.

The comedian, through his attorney, has “refused these allegations without any comment,” which is what he did when asked about them by NPR’s Scott Simon last weekend.

So is Netflix lightly disregarding these allegations by pressing on with its special? Or is it siding with Cosby? Or capitalizing on publicity? Or just fulfilling its end of a contract? And what about NBC, which supposedly is planning a new Cosby sitcom?

I don’t know the answers to those questions either, but it is going to be very hard — as in impossible — to imagine watching a Cosby comedy special and laughing at all, and that’s from a person who has formed no judgment. I doubt I’m alone on that. If Netflix is keeping with its plans for the special mainly for the bump in publicity it will get, that’s Netflix acting more like some rinky-dink cable network that believes it has lucked out with a promotable event with a star who is “hot.” I really don’t think Netflix is that stupid.

When I was a youngster, I kept a heroes list. I can’t imagine that now. We have suspected all kinds of people in the public eye of doing despicable things — and continued to let them function, in politics, show business and sport. We often forget without forgiving. To help ourselves, we just forget to think about the acts we can’t forgive. It allows us to carry on.  

But Bill Cosby’s career was built on telling funny stories about everyday common things that we could all relate to, like eating Jell-O. True or not, these allegations make that act impossible.
6 comments about "Should Netflix Cancel Cosby Special?".
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  1. William Laufer from Laufer Film Inc., November 18, 2014 at 3:12 p.m.

    While much circumstantial evidence seems to exist, we still live in a society where people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If the charges are true, it is an outrage - if they are not, this lynching is an outrage as well. Where are all the police reports, and the lawsuits and the trials? It is very unclear but in cases like this, we, as a society, have chosen to presume innocence. It is scary to consider the alternative.

  2. valery wright from SGVWT LLC, November 18, 2014 at 3:20 p.m.

    Bill Cosby has not been proven guilty of these charges. He's not like the male star of what was one of my favorite shows "Seventh Heaven". THAT actor CONFESSED to being a paedophile. Cosby was never convicted of any such sex-related crime, only accused. True, sometimes where there is smoke there is fire, but this IS the USA and he is innocent until proven guilty. This is not France. The very idea that one of his current accusers claimed she was raped when she was 19 and that happened FORTY-FIVE years ago, is very suspicious. But truth or a lie, he is still a great entertainer, and to reiterate: INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. (One thing I know about Bill Cosby though... in private, he IS a racist against white people. So that will keep me from watching the Netflix special.)

  3. Sue Macdonald from MacDonald Media, November 18, 2014 at 4:02 p.m.

    If Pete Rose can't get into Baseball's Hall of Fame, let Bill Cosby have his show. Like others said, innocent until proven guilty, and at least Pete did his time (disclosure: lifelong Cincinnati Reds fan). Just because Twitter and YouTube claim something is true (!) doesn't mean it is.

  4. Jonathan McEwan from MediaPost, November 18, 2014 at 4:32 p.m.

    I've never kept a heroes list. I've also never liked reading about celebrities' personal lives and alleged crimes. Knowing that, say, Star A is a control freak with whom nobody likes to work will not help me appreciate his or her performance in a movie — or to laugh at their jokes. I only want to know what's there on the stage or screen in front of me. Keep your dirt to yourself. But sometimes stories get so big you can't avoid them. What little I've heard about Bill Cosby right now seems specious enough. Who waits decades to go public? How can you be raped multiple times by the same person? At some point you cross into willing subject. It's all so bizarre. It makes me want to ask meaningful questions like "Why is there air?"

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 18, 2014 at 6:26 p.m.

    See Adam Buckman's column next to yours.

  6. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 19, 2014 at 7:24 a.m.

    If you re-listened to the "Spanish Fly" routine from his late-60s comedy album "It's True, It's True," available on YouTube, that might seal the accusations of slipping things into the drinks of rape victims. In the meantime, I subscribe to the "dozen-or-more" rule with regard to the number of accusations. Bill Clinton only has 3, so he maintains plausible deniability. Bill Cosby has more than 12.

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