In what is quickly becoming a grim daily occurrence, more news is being reported surrounding the rape allegations against Bill Cosby. This time it’s the cancellation of his upcoming Netflix comedy special, which the service has now delayed indefinitely, to a hypothetical future date when America is once again ready to laugh at the comedian in a way that doesn’t involve mocking his continued PR disasters. NBC, however, is not so optimistic: According to The Hollywood Reporter, it’s totally scrapped plans for a new comedy that would have starred Cosby as a grandfather overseeing a large, multicultural brood.
While NBC has yet to comment officially on the matter, the network has been under considerable pressure to drop the project, with Variety commissioning a survey that found that 72 percent of respondents believed it should cut ties with him. (This was on the heels of another survey conducted by celebrity brand expert Jeetendr Sehdev, which found that 59 percent of respondents believe the charges against him.) The sitcom, slotted for a 2015 debut, received a script order with a significant penalty that will presumably now be paid out to Cosby—a loss that is relatively affordable, considering the circumstance.
For its part, Netflix released a brief statement saying it’s “postponing the launch” of its special, Bill Cosby 77, which was set to debut on Nov. 28, Cosby’s 77th birthday, under a title that reflects the age that, according to his lawyer, he is “doing his best work.” Unfortunately, the accusations that have grown louder these past few weeks have given the impression that Cosby is “doing his best work,” only in the sense that he’s performing comedy without also sexually assaulting anyone. (Which, yes, great job, Bill Cosby.) And it’s in light of those allegations that Cosby’s spokesman, David Brokaw, tells Ad Age, “My client says that he is in agreement with Netflix,” as even Cosby himself recognizes that right now may not be a good time to ask to join you in your living room.
In the meantime, at least some Bill Cosby comedy is getting plenty of play, thanks to the fervent circulation of a routine from Cosby’s unfortunately titled 1969 album, It’s True! It’s True!. In it, as The Village Voice’s Alan Scherstuhl points out, he jokes about the supposed aphrodisiac/actual toxin “Spanish fly” and how, when you see a girl you like, you “put some in her drink.” Cosby jokes about his interest it both as a teenager and as an adult, describing a trip he took to Spain with his I Spy co-star Robert Culp where he told him that, in “a childhood dream come true,” he was going to finally get his hand on some Spanish fly. It’s a bit that, while hardly evidential, at least seems rather regrettable now, given all the stories about Cosby putting something in the drink of the women who have accused him of raping them.
Meanwhile, those allegations continue to build, including yesterday’s claim from Janice Dickinson that she, too, was drugged and raped by the comedian in the 1980s. Despite avowals from Cosby’s legal team that he would not comment on or “dignify” any of these accusations, attorney Marty Singer—who recently fended off similar allegations against director Bryan Singer (no relation)—called Dickinson’s story an “outrageous defamatory lie,” specifically denying her charge that Cosby’s team had pressured her to remove the story about the incident from her autobiography.
“Neither Mr. Cosby or any of his attorneys were ever told by Harper Collins that Ms. Dickinson had supposedly planned to write that he had sexually assaulted her, and neither Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives ever communication [sic] with the publisher about any alleged rape or sexual assault about the book,” Singer said in a statement to The Wrap. He also pointed out that Dickinson’s only previous public story about Cosby, both in her memoir and in interviews, was that she went with him back to his hotel room, but stopped herself at the door citing “exhaustion.” She also has said that Cosby “blew her off” after that encounter, because she wouldn’t sleep with him. “There is documentary proof that Janice Dickinson is fabricating and lying about Bill Cosby,” Singer concluded.
At the same time, Radar Online reported on yet another new accuser, Linda Joy Traitz, now 63-years-old, who claims she also had an ugly encounter Cosby when she was a 19-year-old waitress, when she worked in a restaurant partly owned by the comedian. She claims one day Cosby offered her a ride home, drove her to the beach, tried to give her pills to “relax,” then became “sexually aggressive” toward her, at which point she demanded he drive her home.
“I never went after him for this and have no financial gain to put myself out there like this,” Traitz wrote in her account, which she posted to her Facebook page. “To all of you refuse to believe that a beloved actor could do this, you are wrong. Human failings come in all shapes and sizes. Does him being a famous actor exonerate him from this?”
It’s a question that many have asked in the face of all of this, with most answers either coming down on the “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” side of the divide, or agreeing with Cosby’s legal team that, if there were any truth to these allegations, then surely he would have been properly prosecuted years ago. (Aside from when that was attempted, and Cosby chose to settle out of court, of course.) One question that not many have asked, however, is whether any of Cosby’s accusers tried not getting raped—unless you are CNN’s Don Lemon, that is. The anchor basically did just that last night in an interview with Joan Tarshis, the comedian’s latest public accuser, who claimed Cosby raped her twice in 1969.
“Can I ask you this? And please, I don’t mean to be crude, okay?” Lemon says in the video, using the universal signifier that someone is about to be crude. “You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn’t want to do it.”
Tarshis reiterates that she was “kind of stoned at the time, and, quite honestly, that didn’t even enter my mind. Now I wish it would have.” To which Lemon clarifies, “Right. Meaning the using of the teeth, right? Biting.” Tarshis again repeated that she just didn’t think, in the midst of being assaulted, to try to stop it by assaulting him back.
“I had to ask,” Lemon concludes of this question he definitely didn’t have to ask, and for which he is now receiving plenty of the kind of abuse that actually could have been prevented.
On the bright side for Cosby, Lemon is briefly drawing some of the negative attention away from him—at least, if pattern holds, until tomorrow.