Netflix has dropped a planned comedy special featuring Bill Cosby amid a flood of rape allegations the comedian has so far refused to address.
"At this time we are postponing the launch of the new stand up comedy special 'Bill Cosby 77′," a Netflix spokesperson told Variety on Tuesday. The special was set to be released on Nov. 28, Cosby's 77th birthday.
The Netflix decision comes in the wake of a public revisiting of public rape accusations made against the comedian a decade ago, as well as some new allegations that have surfaced in recent days. On Tuesday, model Janet Dickinson said Cosby raped her in a hotel room in 1982. Her claim follows similar allegations made recently by Joan Tarshis and Barbara Bowman. There are now 15 women who allege Cosby raped them.
Deadline speculates that NBC may be the next to distance itself from Cosby. The network has a family sitcom in the works centered around Cosby planned for next fall:
On the show, executive produced by The Cosby Show's Tom Werner, Cosby is to star as Jonathan Franklin, a patriarch of a multigenerational family who shares his many years of wit, wisdom and experience to help his daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren navigate their complicated modern lives. In light of the slew of disturbing accusations, it would be hard for viewers to accept Cosby as a lovable family man and for NBC to sell the project to advertisers.
The network has a lot of money at stake. According to the deal, Cosby is owed a big penalty if the comedy doesn't go to pilot. Because these are old allegations with little or no legal repercussions, the network might have to write Cosby a fat check if it kills the project. But the damage to NBC's image — especially with parent Comcast priding itself as a family business holding strong moral values — could be pricier if it opts to continue.
According to Variety, NBC declined to comment on the status of the planned Cosby sitcom.
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