NBC Reveals Why They Waited To Drop Bill Cosby TV Show Despite Rape Allegations
During a Television Critics Association panel on Friday, NBC executive Robert Greenblatt defended the network’s decision to wait before cutting ties with alleged serial rapist Bill Cosby, who was developing a new series with NBC until the allegations against him became too numerous to ignore in November.
Last July, during a similar event, NBC executives happily announced they were moving forward with the proposed “classic, big extended-family sitcom” featuring Cosby, even though two women had recently accused Cosby of rape in Newsweek. Back then, Greenblatt announced, “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.”
But when the rape allegations gained momentum in recent weeks, Greenblatt and the NBC brass changed their tune, dropping the Cosby project. On Friday, reporters challenged the network’s timing, and Greenblatt responded in what’s being reported as a somewhat combative tone.
He’s quoted as explaining, “Fifteen women came out and accused him of what they accused him of. While over the years we heard [about some of the rape allegations] 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 the something where we could go ‘Oh, we’re not sure.’”
“He hasn’t been proven guilty of anything,” continued Greenblatt. “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 completed, already filmed stand-up special with Cosby before everything blew up], we’re developing a script. We didn’t even have a first draft… I’m glad we’re out from under that.”
Asked by a reporter to say what changed, Greenblatt said the “critical mass” of allegations against Cosby is “what just happened two months ago.” When the reporter asked, “So 15 [women making accusations] ‘yes,’ [but] two or three ‘no’?” “Yeah, you want me to put a number on it?” Greenblatt replied. “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.” What do you think of NBC’s decision and timing?