The US network NBC pulled the plug on a new Bill Cosby sitcom following a similar move by Netflix, piling pressure on the veteran comic over growing sex assault claims.
The double setback came after a lawyer for the 77-year-old Cosby dismissed the claims of a string of attacks made by several women as “old, discredited allegations.”
“We can confirm that the Cosby project is no longer in development,” NBC said in a statement, declining any further comment on the accusations dogging the award-winning entertainer.
That came 12 hours after streaming video service Netflix said it was postponing the launch of a new stand-up comedy special, to be called “Bill Cosby 77.”
People magazine said the Netflix special was supposed to be a birthday celebration for Cosby, in which he would share stories from his childhood, first romantic relationships and parenthood.
But the allegations of rape and sexual abuse made against him by several women in recent weeks are tarnishing the public image of the urbane actor, famous for his long TV career — especially his role as a doting father on the popular “Cosby Show” in the 1980s and 1990s.
Former model Janice Dickinson, now 59, on Tuesday added her claims to the list, telling Entertainment Tonight that Cosby sexually assaulted her in 1982.
Dickinson said it happened after a dinner they shared in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, where she said she had gone to talk about a job offer from Cosby. At the dinner she said she had red wine and a pill Cosby gave her because she had menstrual and stomach pains.
“The next morning I woke up, and I wasn’t wearing my pajamas, and I remember before I passed out that I had been sexually assaulted by this man,” Dickinson said.
In all some 13 women have made similar allegations against him, including Joan Tarshis, who claimed she was drugged and raped by Cosby in 1969.
“I didn’t go to the police because I was 19 years old. I was scared and I thought nobody would believe me… He was Mister America,” Tarshis told CNN on Wednesday.
– Cosby stays silent –
So far, Cosby himself has remained silent on the issue.
Cosby lawyer John Schmitt told entertainment news website The Wrap at the weekend: “Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr Cosby have resurfaced.”
“The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment,” he added.
The storm engulfing Cosby erupted last month when comedian Hannibal Buress branded him a “rapist” during a stand-up show in Philadelphia — a clip that went viral.
Cosby’s PR team then invited fans on Twitter to create light-hearted images — known as memes — of the comedian. The campaign backfired when users created memes that referred to the rape allegations.
A scheduled appearance by Cosby on the “Late Show with David Letterman” was cancelled as the entertainer faced a barrage of accusations.
Despite the TV snubs, Cosby is going ahead with a series of live shows in the coming weeks, with some already sold out and no cancelations planned, according to celebrity news website TMZ.
But TV talk show host Queen Latifah has shelved a scheduled interview with him to promote the live tour.