NBC cancels Bill Cosby project amid assault allegations

NBC said on Wednesday it has cancelled an upcoming project with veteran comedian Bill Cosby (above, in a 2009 file photo), his second show to be pulled after accusations that he sexually assaulted women resurfaced in recent weeks. -- PHOTO: AFP
NBC said on Wednesday it has cancelled an upcoming project with veteran comedian Bill Cosby (above, in a 2009 file photo), his second show to be pulled after accusations that he sexually assaulted women resurfaced in recent weeks. -- PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - NBC said on Wednesday it has cancelled an upcoming project with veteran comedian Bill Cosby, his second show to be pulled after accusations that he sexually assaulted women resurfaced in recent weeks.

The move by NBC comes a day after online streaming company Netflix said it was postponing Cosby's stand-up comedy special Bill Cosby 77, which was due to be released on Nov 28.

But in a sign that Cosby was not ready to withdraw from public appearances, his sold-out show in Florida on Friday will proceed as scheduled, the King Centre for the Performing Arts said on its website on Wednesday.

Comcast Corp-owned NBC said in a statement that "the Cosby project is no longer in development," while declining to comment further.

The project was still in its early stages, with no script delivered and no production date secured.

Cosby's representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the NBC and Netflix cancellations.

Allegations that Cosby, 77, drugged and sexually assaulted several young women decades ago gained renewed attention after comedian Hannibal Buress called him a rapist during a stand-up comedy routine last month.

Last week, Cosby got an unwelcome response to his Twitter feed request for followers to create memes about him, and was barraged with memes about the rape accusations.

Cosby has never been charged with the alleged crimes.

In an interview with National Public Radio last week, the comedian who has been married to Camille Cosby for 50 years declined to answer questions about the sexual assault allegations.

Cosby is best known for playing Cliff Huxtable, the beloved patriarch of an affluent black family on NBC's sitcom The Cosby Show that was a top-ranked programme from 1984 to 1992.

The show has been credited with accelerating racial tolerance and paving the way for a black US president.

One of Cosby's accusers, former aspiring actress Barbara Bowman, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed this month that Cosby had sexually assaulted her on multiple occasions in 1985 when she was 17. She said she never went to the police because she feared she would not be believed.

Model Janice Dickinson said she believed she had been sexually assaulted by Cosby in 1982, in an interview with Entertainment Tonight that aired on Tuesday.

In a letter received by Reuters, Cosby's lawyers called Dickinson's claims "fabricated" and "an outrageous defamatory lie."

According to the venue where Cosby will perform Friday, the comedian's management said in a statement "while we are aware of the allegations reported in the press, we are only in a position to judge him based on his career as an entertainer and humanitarian."

Earlier this year, Cosby spoke with Reuters about returning to the spotlight with comedy specials, a tour and a television show. He described the NBC show as "generational."