Fifteen months after the Bill Cosby sexual assault scandal exploded onto the headlines, the fallout has trickled down to the people who worked with the TV legend on “The Cosby Show.”
The hit series, which originally aired on NBC from 1984 to 1992, had been a staple on cable television. But that all changed when dozens of women began to step forward to accuse Cosby of drugging their drinks, raping, coercing or sexually assaulting them. TV Land dropped reruns of the series in November 2014. Cable channels Bounce TV and Centric followed suit. The absence of “The Cosby Show” has meant fewer residual checks for the show’s cast.
“Yes, there are financial repercussions that we’ve experienced because of that,” Malcolm-Jamal Warner told TheWrap during an interview about his upcoming FX series “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.” However, the actor said he could not give specifics on anyone else’s “bottom line.”
For eight seasons, Warner played Cosby’s son, Theo Huxtable. It was an opportunity that would be the actor’s big break. He has since had a close relationship with his TV dad and the two frequently speak by phone.
When asked about Cosby’s state of mind since a Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, prosecutor charged the comedian with sexual assault on Dec. 30, Warner was reluctant to divulge details of their personal conversations.
“He’s doing alright. That part I really don’t feel comfortable talking about because we’ve always had a close personal relationship,” the actor said. “He’s always been very, very good to me. Our personal conversations I tend to keep personal.”
What Warner would talk about was his career as a Grammy-winning musician and his third album.
“My record just came out a couple of months ago called ‘Selfless’ with Lalah Hathaway, Stokley Williams from Mint Condition, Rashaan Patterson, Ledisi and Robert Glasper,” he said. “It’s been really cool because I’ve gotten a great response from the record.”
As for the Cosby Case, Warner chose his words carefully, saying the press and the public have a tendency to “misinterpret” his statements.
“I’ve had situations where I’ve said one thing and people would take that statement and interpret it as I’m defending him,” he said. “Then someone would take that same statement and interpret it as I’m throwing him under the bus. So, at some point it’s like I can’t really say anything because, again, people are going to interpret it filtered through what they want to see.”
The actor went on to draw parallels between the Cosby situation and O.J. Simpson’s criminal trial.
“What’s interesting is, say, the O.J. trial and when the verdict came out and there were people who celebrated and there were people who thought that he’s guilty and it’s a crime. Those reactions tend to be filtered through our own experiences,” Warner said.
“When people of color, when our experience is not a positive one, our experience with the police, our experience with the justice system… we tend to, a lot of the black community’s response was filtered through our experience.”
In Warner’s opinion, those experiences have a lot to do with whether people believe the numerous women who have accused Cosby of sexual assault.
“It’s interesting that there are people who are adamant that he’s guilty and there are people who are adamant that he’s not,” he said. “That response comes through our own experiences with sexual abuse.”
Watch the video of Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s interview above.