Bill Cosby‘s hopes for a return to television are dead.
Sixteen women and counting, seven publicly, have alleged that the Emmy-winning actor and comedian sexually assaulted them. Even in depraved Hollywood, there’s no coming back from that.
Sorry, I have to take that back. Unproven sexual allegations don’t always kill careers.
Bryan Singer, for example, delivered one of the year’s biggest movies in “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and is going on to do the franchise’s follow-up “Apocalypse” despite years of rumored relationships with young men and recent legal action brought by a man who alleges he was sexually assaulted by the director as a minor.
Woody Allen has survived at least two cycles of accusations of taking advantage of young girls. The first with Soon Yi Previn, Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter, ended in a marriage that continues today. The second set of molestation charges leveled against him came from another adopted daughter with Mia, Dylan Farrow. Allen broke his silence in an essay and reiterated his innocence. He then went back to work.
But in the case of Cosby, the TV viewing public, and more importantly the networks that covet their eyeballs, won’t be so quick to forgive him.
What’s the difference? Singer and Allen never traded against an image of being America’s favorite dad.
At this point, unproven allegations withstanding, Cosby can’t sell against his fatherly image anymore and networks aren’t going to buy him without it.
This isn’t a Charlie Sheen goes nuts on his bosses at “Two and a Half Men” and then gets an FX series moment. This is it for Cosby.
After NBC killed his comedy, individuals with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap that it’s not being shopped to other networks as there’s no market for the show now, after the allegations resurfaced.
He had to wait 14 years since his CBS comedy, “Cosby,” and 22 years after first introducing his mumbling, jazz-listening, tough-loving Cliff Huxtable on NBC’s “The Cosby Show” before getting this chance at a TV rebound. At 77, the comedian will never see his chance return.
That’s the bad news. The good news for Cosby is that he doesn’t need to come back to TV. He’s reportedly worth $400 million aka filthy rich. And he still has a very loyal older-skewing core fan base that will show up and laugh and adore him at every stop on his current (and future) stand up tours.
And although these allegations certainly besmirch his accomplishments, they don’t erase them. That legacy will always be his. It’s his now and forever. And upon his death, we’ll hear those allegations surface again but they’ll be muted by the public’s mourning and our paying of respect to his accomplishments and to his loved ones – just like Michael Jackson and Richard Nixon before him.
Will that be enough for Cosby? Probably not, but he’ll be fine.
Note: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated Soon Yi Previn’s adoptive parents. TheWrap regrets the error.