Bill Cosby -- who debunked the "Sitcom is Dead" conventional wisdom of the early '80s with one of the most successful sitcoms in history -- may be returning to NBC in a multigenerational comedy that he will headline.
NBC Wednesday confirmed a report in Deadline that said Cosby, 76, was developing a show for the network that he would star in. One of his partners on "The Cosby Show" -- Tom Werner, now chairman of the Boston Red Sox -- would reportedly join the series in a production capacity. NBC said the show had not yet received a series or pilot order.
Cosby's longtime spokesman, David Brokaw, did not return a call for comment.
While promoting a comedy special on Comedy Central last year, Cosby told Yahoo TV that viewers "would like to see a married couple that acts like they love each other [and] children who respect the parenting, and the comedy of people who make mistakes. Warmth and forgiveness. So I hope to get that opportunity." He declined to say whether he would star but an off-screen production role was also seen as somewhat out of character: For more than half a century, he's been in front of a camera, not behind one.
No other details, including arrival date, but the term "multigenerational" may be the giveaway here, indicating that Cos will play a grandfather figure -- which of course would make sense. (After all, Cliff Huxtable is not a whippersnapper any more.)
Cos has been everywhere lately -- recently on "Late Show with David Letterman," for example, and last year's Comedy Central special -- all clues, or indications, that the old pro is sharpening his skills for a re-entry. NBC, during the recent press tour, also gave less-than-tepid vocal support to the pair of sitcoms that are currently fronted by legendary NBC stars of yore -- "Sean Saves the World," and "The Michael J. Fox Show." Neither is expected to return to the schedule next season, and so -- yes -- there would be an opening on Thursday.
About Thursday: "The Cosby Show" spectacularly anchored Thursdays for NBC from 1984 to 1992, making the star not only one of the wealthiest entertainers in the world, but one of the most powerful. Cosby exercised a power that few others had done before or have since -- by demanding and securing time periods on Thursday for other Cosby-produced shows, including the 1987-93 spinoff, "A Different World," starring Lisa Bonet, who played Denise Huxtable on "The Cosby Show." Cos even explored buying NBC at one point.