Cosby comedy gigs to go on in midst of swirling allegations

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 20, 2014 6:31 PM

By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - All three of Bill Cosby's live comedy shows in November will proceed as planned, venue organizers said on Thursday, despite mounting allegations from multiple women saying the comedian sexually assaulted them decades ago.

Cosby will perform Friday in a sold-out show in Melbourne, Florida, while a Las Vegas show and an engagement in Yakima, Washington are still scheduled for next week.

Cosby, 77, has never been charged and his lawyers have called the allegations that have resurfaced in recent weeks "discredited" and "defamatory."

Three networks nevertheless scrapped Cosby shows in recent days, dealing new setbacks to his career comeback.

NBC canceled a project in development with Cosby while Netflix postponed a stand-up comedy special. TV Land pulled reruns of "The Cosby Show" from its schedule.

Therese Serignese from Florida is the latest woman to appear in media describing how Cosby drugged and assaulted her.

Serignese told a television station she met Cosby in 1976 in Las Vegas, where he invited her to a party and gave her pills. "My next memory is feeling drugged and him having sex with me," she told WPTV.

Cosby's representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

Cosby has also refused to answer reporters' questions about the allegations, including in an interview with National Public Radio and a Nov. 6 television interview with the Associated Press that was released Wednesday.

"I don't talk about it," he said in the AP interview, with wife Camille by his side.

After the interview and while cameras were still rolling, Cosby asked that his response not be used. "I would appreciate it if it was scuttled," he said.

While allegations had been made before, including in a lawsuit from a woman that was settled in 2006, social media has helped fuel the controversy.

Cosby's team unwittingly intensified the scandal on Twitter last week by asking the comedian's followers to create viral memes about him, and were instead barraged with memes about the rape accusations.

"The interview on NPR, the inartful meme request, the audio recording of him trying to get this reporter to change the story, all of it is another log on the fire," said Jason Maloni, senior vice president at Levick public relations firm, which has represented comedian Rosie O'Donnell and disgraced baseball player Alex Rodriguez.

"One would hope it's not logs on a funeral pyre, but it certainly looks that way with his inartful responses."

(Additioal reporting by Dan Levine in San Francisco; Writing by Mary Milliken; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)