BEVERLY HILLS - Bill Cosby -- or should we say, the Bill Cosby -- will be returning to NBC, possibly as early as next summer, in a still-untitled multigenerational family comedy, NBC Entertainment chief Jennifer Salke told reporters at the biannual "critics tour" here Sunday. Cosby's return to NBC had been reported some months ago, but it was unclear at the time whether he would actually star in the series.

Unclear no more: He will play the patriarch of a large clan that doesn't sound a whole lot different from that famous Huxtable clan, in fact. NBC execs said there was no rush to get the series on the air, while the 2015 season could be just as likely a starting place.

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Meanwhile, Mike O'Malley -- of "Glee" -- has joined the series as a writer along with Mike Sikowitz, formerly a showrunner on "Rules of Engagement." O'Malley could have a starring role as well, executives confirmed.


Christopher Walken, who hasn't done a lot of TV over a long career, will undertake a notable starring role next season -- as Captain Hook, in NBC's live telecast of the 1954 musical based on "Peter Pan," with music by Mark "Moose" Charlap and Jule Styne. NBC announced no other casting details yesterday, but execs did confirm that they had approached Kristen Bell to play Peter, but that she had declined.


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Katherine Heigl, who returns to network TV this fall in the NBC spy thriller "State of Affairs," addressed a question Sunday about her "difficult" reputation on sets (she had criticized her story in "Grey's Anatomy," for example). Well, difficult? "I can't really speak to that," she said. "I can only say that I don't see myself as difficult," adding that "it's important for everyone to always conduct themselves professionally, kindly [and] if I have ever disappointed anybody, it was not intentional."