TIME Television

2 Channels Will Keep Bill Cosby Sitcoms on the Air

(Left to Right) Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Theodore 'Theo' Huxtable, Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliff 'Cliff' Huxtable, Keshia Knight Pulliam as Rudy Huxtable, Tempestt Bledsoe as Vanessa Huxtable on The Cosby Show.
(Left to Right) Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Theodore 'Theo' Huxtable, Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliff 'Cliff' Huxtable, Keshia Knight Pulliam as Rudy Huxtable, Tempestt Bledsoe as Vanessa Huxtable on The Cosby Show. NBC/Getty Images

Nine women have recently accused Cosby of drugging and raping them during the 1970s and ’80s

Two channels are sticking with Bill Cosby.

While TV Land has stopped airing repeats of Cosby’s iconic NBC sitcom The Cosby Show, two niche basic cable channels that target black viewers have decided to continue running sitcoms starring the actor-comedian.

BET-owned Centric (formerly BET Jazz) confirmed to EW that repeats of Cosby Show will continue. Centric is available in 51 million homes. Asked for the channel’s reasoning behind the decision, a spokesperson replied that they’re not making any comments about the series at this time.

The other channel is called Aspire and it was launched by Magic Johnson in 2012. Aspire airs Cosby’s short-lived 1969 sitcom, The Bill Cosby Show, which ran for two seasons. Aspire told EW, “We continue to closely monitor the situation. Currently the show is still running.” Aspire is available in about 21 million homes.

Nine women have recently accused Cosby of drugging and raping them during the 1970s and ’80s, allegations the 77-year-old comic has strongly denied through his attorney. In recent weeks, Cosby has canceled at least two TV appearances, NBC has halted development on a new sitcom starring the actor and Netflix has postponed streaming a new Cosby stand-up special.

This article originally appeared on Entertainment Weekly

TIME Television

So What Do We Do About The Cosby Show?

(Left to Right) Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Theodore 'Theo' Huxtable, Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliff 'Cliff' Huxtable, Keshia Knight Pulliam as Rudy Huxtable, Tempestt Bledsoe as Vanessa Huxtable on The Cosby Show.
(Left to Right) Malcolm-Jamal Warner as Theodore 'Theo' Huxtable, Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliff 'Cliff' Huxtable, Keshia Knight Pulliam as Rudy Huxtable, Tempestt Bledsoe as Vanessa Huxtable on The Cosby Show. NBC/Getty Images

If it's hard to "separate the art from the artist" this time, it's partly because the artist worked so hard to intertwine them.

“I don’t know what I’m doing by telling you. I guess I want to just at least make it weird for you to watch Cosby Show reruns.” —Hannibal Buress

Mission accomplished. The re-examination of rape accusations against Bill Cosby that Hannibal Buress — and a growing number of women subsequently coming forward with their stories — helped trigger has changed a lot, fast. A story that had largely lain buried for years is suddenly everywhere. And that has apparently ended Cosby’s late-career comeback: NBC quashed an in-development Cosby sitcom, while Netflix pulled a standup special planned to air the day after Thanksgiving.

The most important stakes here are about justice, not TV shows. But as Buress suggested, the cultural stakes are not about Cosby’s future — they’re about his past, his legacy. On the one hand, the public is hearing that a beloved entertainer has been accused of using his power to sexually prey on women for decades. On the other, that entertainer created a long-running TV show that was a landmark not just of entertainment but of American society.

The Cosby Show is part of our history; it can’t be erased. (Even if TV Land has pulled its reruns.) It’s funny, insightful, moving, great. But it is now also — whatever you think of the allegations and the real-world consequences — weird, in a way that’s hard to shake.

To be clear, I’m not asking here whether it’s “OK” to watch The Cosby Show. The moral question of whether to support an artist financially is a different one (and, as Todd van der Werff points out at Vox, whether or not you watch reruns will make very little difference to Cosby’s bottom line now). I don’t want to police that call, and if we ejected every questionable artist from the canon — abusers, bigots, reprobates — our bookshelves and movie queues would be a lot lighter.

But it seems hard to hear what we’ve been hearing and not feel anything different when watching Cliff Huxtable making faces and dispensing wisdom. “Innocent until proven guilty” is a standard for the courts, for good reason. But it’s not a standard for life. If what you know or hear about an artist affects the way you see their work, you can no more will yourself to feel otherwise than you can force yourself not to blink.

Of course, bad people can create great works. People are complicated. Art is complicated. And so is the question of whether you can separate the art from the artist — the answer is different for every creator and every audience member. Whatever you think of the disturbing allegations against Woody Allen, for instance, there’s a good argument that although his movies have often relied on his persona, they don’t depend on your considering him a morally upstanding person. (Even if some, like Crimes and Misdemeanors, turn on issues of morality.)

With The Cosby Show, though, Bill Cosby the person is throughly and intentionally baked into it— his identity, his persona, his claimed authority. It’s not a show made as if it wants us to separate the art from the artist, and not just because “Cosby” is in the name.

Cliff Huxtable isn’t — like “Jerry Seinfeld” in Seinfeld — a carbon copy of his creator. But Cosby invested himself in Cliff in ways that were deeper and more binding. He drew on his own life, patterning Theo’s struggles in school, for instance, on his own son Ennis’ diagnosis of dyslexia. Cliff and the show shared Cosby’s interests in African American high culture, especially jazz.

Cliff liked what Cosby liked, felt what he felt, argued what he argued. He may have had a different job, but more important, he had Cosby’s sensibility and sense of didactic purpose. As Mark Whitaker pointed out in his biography — which ignored the rape accusations but delved deep into Cosby’s creative life — the comedian mingled his real and fictional lives so thoroughly that during the first season that “the producers and director started to notice something telling. When they were discussing scripts, he would sometimes slip and refer to his character as Bill instead of Cliff.”

That was part of the power of The Cosby Show: people’s affection for Cosby transferred to Cliff, and their respect for Cliff rebounded to Cosby (who at the height of the show’s popularity wrote the best-selling Fatherhood). Everything about this relationship between artist and creation said: Cliff speaks for me. And what Cliff had to say was also, deliberately, instructive: about how parents should speak to children, how white Americans should see their African American neighbors, how men should regard women. (See, for instance, the running jokes spoofing the clueless chauvinism of Sondra’s husband Elvin.)

I’ve rewatched those episodes a lot lately, especially in the last few years as my kids have discovered the reruns on Hulu. They’re still funny and powerful. They stand up, and they stand on their own. But they’re also designed to work, in part, by drawing on the moral authority of Cliff and, by extension, Cosby.

We shouldn’t erase The Cosby Show‘s place in TV history — the way it changed comedy, represented the unrepresented and reframed African Americans in pop culture — even if it were possible to do so. No one owes it to the rest of the world to stop liking The Cosby Show. But it’s also understandable if, this time, you can’t easily “separate the art from the artist,” when the artist worked so hard and so effectively, for so long, to meld them together.

The Cosby Show is a great, important, transformational piece of American culture. Nothing Bill Cosby does or has done in real life can ever change that; nor can that ever excuse anything Bill Cosby does or has done in real life.

But will it ever, entirely not be weird? There is no statute of limitations on that.

Read next: Bill Cosby, Camille Cosby and the Oppressive Power of Silence

Read next: Ask an Ethicist: Can I Still Watch The Cosby Show?

TIME celebrities

Cosby Performances Canceled As Rape Allegations Grow

Comedian/actor Bill Cosby performs at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on Sept. 26, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Comedian/actor Bill Cosby performs at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino on Sept. 26, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller—Getty Images

He was scheduled to perform in Nevada, Arizona and Virginia

At least five upcoming Bill Cosby performances across the country were canceled Friday as the number of allegations that the comedian drugged and raped women continues to grow.

Cosby, who has denied claims of sexual harassment and rape dating back decades, was scheduled to perform at Treasure Island Resort and Casino in Las Vegas next week. In a statement, the resort said the decision to cancel the show came “by mutual agreement,” and ticket holders would be refunded. Performances in Arizona, Illinois and South Carolina, scheduled for 2015, were also canceled.

Cosby took the stage in the Bahamas Thursday, and a theater in Melbourne, Fla. said Cosby’s show would proceed Friday night.

“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,” management at the King Center for the Performing Arts said in statement.

At least three women have come forward this week to claim the entertainer had abused them sexually. Cosby’s lawyer has dismissed the allegations as a “media-led feeding frenzy.”

TIME Television

Portlandia Gets Dramatic in the Trailer for Season 5

“I’ve concluded that we’re looking for a weirdo”

The trailer for Season 5 of Portlandia is a little bit Law and Order, a little bit Michael Bay. With a dramatic soundtrack building suspense in the background, Fred, Carrie and their cadre of famous guest stars scream, fire machine guns, set gasoline aflame, and hang from ledges by their fingertips. If they weren’t so goofy, it would almost be suspenseful.

Of course, take out the action movie score and you’re left with the same old shenanigans we’re used to — namely, campaigning about the benefits of unpasteurized milk and attempting to free the whales at Sea World. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. After four seasons of milking the Portland stereotype nearly dry, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein keep coming up with more ridiculous spoofs of the dog-loving, bike-riding, coffee-drinking, organic-obsessed city that is Portland.

The trailer includes cameos from Jeff Goldblum, Ed Begley, Jr., Justin Long, Olivia Wilde, Paul Reubens, Vanessa Bayer and Brigitte Nielsen. IFC has announced that Paul Simon, Oscar the Grouch, Steve Buscemi and many others will also appear this season.

The season premieres on Jan. 8, 2015.

TIME Media

Thank You, Duggars, Your Homophobia Is Really a Public Service

Duggar family - Woodbridge, VA
Reality telvision celebrities, Jim Bob Duggar, center, and his wife, Michelle Duggar make a stop on their "Values Bus Tour" outside Heritage Baptist Church on Wednesday October 16, 2013 in Woodbridge, VA. The Washington Post—The Washington Post/Getty Images

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie.

When gay marriage is passing in state after state, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is on the bandwagon

You would think that, decades after Anita Bryant went on a crusade to rid gay people from public life, we’d be sick of hearing D-listers call us names and voice their hatred against us in public. The latest to really take a stand against gays is Michelle Duggar, the human baby factory who is the matriarch on the reality show “19 Kids and Counting.” This may sound strange, but I would actually like to thank her for her recent behavior.

The Duggars stirred up controversy when they recently asked for people to post pictures of married couples kissing on their Facebook page and then deleted a picture of a gay married couple kissing. (Hello? Who do you think is keeping TLC in business?) When the news of this leaked, activists directed people to sign a Change.org petition to “end LGBTQ fear mongering by the Duggars” and calls for the show to be canceled because of their behavior. It now has well over 120,000 signatures.

For what it’s worth, this isn’t Michelle’s only recent offense. She also recorded a robocall asking that the people of Fayetteville, Arkansas, vote to repeal a law that stops discrimination based on gender identity. Basically she wants people to be able to discriminate against transgender men and women.

Now some people think that we need to silence the Duggars and those like them. I think we should let them keep going. Nothing defeats complacency like knowing exactly where gay people stand with millions of Americans. Now, it’s not a shock that the overly religious Duggars don’t like gay people. That’s sort of like saying that Paula Deen likes butter. But, when gay marriage is passing in state after state, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is on the bandwagon. There are still large groups of Americans out there who want to rob us of our rights, and if we don’t stay vigilant, we’ll never win the war.

Right now we’re having a bit of success in dealing with pop culture homophobes. In May, HGTV decided to cancel a show they were planning to air featuring David and Jason Benham when it was discovered that they had made some nasty comments about gay people very publicly.

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty made some very homophobic comments to GQ this January, and was mouthing off once again this May about how gay sex is unnatural. He was suspended from A&E briefly for his behavior and the ratings for the show tanked after his disclosure.

That’s why we need these people to keep talking. There’s no doubt in my mind that there is hatred in the hearts of many people for LGBTQ men and women in this country, but if that hatred just stays in their hearts they’ll be working against us without our knowledge. The louder they become, the easier it is to target them. And when we can target them, well, we’ve seen that we can do things to shut them up. If only we could give them all a pie in the face like Anita Bryant got.

Having loudmouth opponents also serves as an effective recruiting tool for allies to gay civil rights causes. Like it or not, reality stars like the Duggars and especially the Robertsons–whose most recent season finale still clocked almost 4 million viewers–have a huge stage. When they make these sorts of remarks there is always a media firestorm and each time that happens, I would like to think that there is at least one fan out there who thinks, “God, what an idiot.” Hopefully that opens up some minds and shows those out there who may not be very hospitable to the “gay lifestyle” that bigotry is distasteful no matter how it manifests itself.

We don’t get to teach these lessons, show our strength or fight these battles if these people are silent. We need people like Michelle Duggar to be loud in order to get the hard work of activism done. So no matter how much it sucks, we have to just take it on the chin every time one of these yahoos has the bright idea to spout off. Trust me, it’s for the greater good. Every time a reality star says something ignorant about the LGBT community, a gay angel gets her wings.

Oscar Wilde, one of the world’s most public and tragic gay men, said “True friends stab you in the front.” There is no doubt in my mind that there are plenty of misinformed people in America carrying daggers against gay people, including those who have a public forum to discuss those views. Why would we want them hiding that hatred in the shadows when, out in the open, it can be diffused, acted on and used as a teaching tool to get more people on our side. We should all thank Michelle Duggar. She thinks that she’s stabbing gay Americans in the front, but what she’s really doing is bloodying herself.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie who lives in New York. His work has appeared in Gawker, VICE, New York magazine, and a few other safe-for-work publications.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Television

Sherlock Fans Warned to Expect ‘Tragedy’ in Season 4

From left: Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes
From left: Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes Robert Viglasky—Hartswood Films/MASTERPIECE

Get ready for some dark days on the BBC drama, co-creator says

Sherlock co-creator Mark Gatiss has revealed that the show’s fourth season will take a tragic turn—though he’s not giving away any spoilers just yet.

“You can always expect tragedy as well as adventure,” he said in an interview with RadioTimes.com. “That’s just how it goes.”

The show is set to air a one-episode special in early 2015, and a full fourth season in 2016.

Gattiss’s lips are sealed on exactly what grim proceedings viewers can expect. But actor Martin Freeman, who plays Dr. John Watson, has hinted at one character’s imminent death, based on the events in the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle series. Here’s a clue: it’s not his.

[RadioTimes]

TIME Television

Watch Seth Meyers Make the Perfect Bill Cosby Joke

It's a four-minute sketch that carefully explores the challenges of making light of the rape allegations against Bill Cosby

Late night TV hosts have (understandably) been hesitant to make jokes about the growing sexual assault allegations against comedian, sweater enthusiast and Jell-O pitchman Bill Cosby. But on Thursday’s episode of Late Night, Seth Meyers decided to tackle the topic with something that was more of an elaborate meta-joke than a simple, straightforward quip.

A planted audience member begins pestering Meyers about his take on the scandal and eventually gets fellow audience members to begin chanting “Bill Cosby joke! Bill Cosby joke! Bill Cosby joke!” Meyers eventually gives in, and the audience member soon realizes that he had, uh, misunderstood what the whole scandal was even about.

The four-minute sketch becomes more of a general commentary on why it’s not a good idea for comedians to make light of this issue — and how challenging it is to do so effectively.

Conan O’Brien also made a Cosby joke Thursday night, though his was more of a quick quip thrown hastily into an otherwise unrelated sketch. Watch about two and a half minutes in:

So far, it seems other late night hosts are still hanging back and avoiding the scandal altogether.

Read next: So What Do We Do About The Cosby Show?

TIME Television

One Direction And Jimmy Kimmel Take ‘Cutest Selfie Ever’

Complete with children, feather boas, and of course, a boy band

Jimmy Kimmel was on a mission to take the “cutest selfie ever” with boy band One Direction on his show Thursday. To make it cuter, he added children, puppies, bunny ears, feather boas, stuffed animals and a mini unicorn. Of course, fans of One Direction would say the cutest part of the picture was the members of the internationally known boy band themselves.

One Direction’s recently released their newest album “Four.”

 

TIME Television

Watch Stephen Colbert Question Jon Stewart’s Patriotism

“Are you a blame America first?” the show host asks his former boss from the Daily Show

Television worlds collided Thursday when Jon Stewart appeared as a guest on Daily Show alumni Stephen Colbert’s show, The Colbert Report, to promote his new film Rosewater.

“How does it feel to know that your entire career could have been shouted into a sock and thrown over an overpass?” Colbert says, needling his old boss.

Colbert calls Stewart his “friend and nemesis.”

“Rather than killing everyone else what if we were to…coexist with them in some kind of fashion,” Stewart asks the reactionary conservative Colbert.

“You mean like the bumper sticker?” asks Colbert.

Colbert praised Rosewater, a film about a journalist jailed in Iran after doing an interview with a Daily Show corespondent.

“It’s a beautiful film and that offends me. Why is it that you can do your show,” Colbert says, “and you do it well, and now you’re doing something else well.”

Read next: Jon Stewart Admits He Wants to Rip Off Benedict Cumberbatch’s Clothes

TIME Television

Better Call Saul Has a Premiere Date

The Breaking Bad spinoff is set to premiere February 9

Fans of Breaking Bad don’t have to wait much longer to revisit at least one character from the show. Better Call Saul, the much-anticipated Breaking Bad prequel, will debut on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 10:00 pm, AMC announced Thursday.

The spinoff’s second episode will air the next night, Monday, Feb. 9, at the same time and will continue to air on Mondays at 10:00 pm.

Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and writer Peter Gould will return for the new show. Set six years before Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) meets his meth-making clients Walter and Jesse, the show explores the history of the man audiences know as Saul but who once went by Jimmy McGill.

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