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Friday, August 21, 2015 

How much did Cosby's producers know about his misogynist antics?

A few weeks ago, the Washington Post asked how many people working with Bill Cosby knew he was harrassing, drugging and raping numerous women, more than 40 who've now come forward to tell about the perverted crimes he committed against them. One of the possible in-the-knows is said to be a former employee of the William Morris talent agency who passed away in 2011. But what about Tom Werner and Marcy Carsey, his producers on the Cosby Show and the spinoff series, A Different World? How much did they know? I've seen at least a few people asking online if they were aware he was assaulting various actresses, a couple who appeared onscreen as guests on some of his programs. Indeed, how much did Werner know, for example?

Until that can be answered, I found something from past history involving Roseanne Barr, whose crummy sitcom they produced too, that's not only insulting, it even made me lose more respect for Werner and company than before: Barr's catastrophous recitation of the Star-Spangled Banner in 1990 and her reaction to the crowd that booed her in San Diego:
Five days before she was to sing, Barr made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

During the interview, Carson said, “I understand in a couple days you’re going to be doing the national anthem. I didn’t know you could sing.”

“Of course, I can,” Barr said.

Asked to give the audience a sample, Barr sang Kung Fu Fighting.

It was not good.

“I realized she can’t sing,” Strasberg said. “We’ve got a problem here."

Said Werner: "Don’t worry, she’s a professional."

Um, yeah.

A professional comedian. Barr had planned to ham it up a little for the crowd, which wasn’t a bright idea. Things snowballed from there.
I didn't think she was a talented performer either. Yet Werner, who owns the Boston Red Sox, kept defending her as though nothing happened. It got worse:
“But the perception in the stands is that people are booing and she doesn’t want to hear the boos,” Strasberg said. “And her voice gets louder and now she’s screeching.”

Boos began almost as soon as Barr opened her mouth. Perhaps it was the comedian’s instinct, when things went south, to take it over the top. Maybe she was going for a laugh when she made it so shrill, stretching out and screeching the word “free” toward the end of the song.

But that’s not what you do with this song, and certainly not in this town.

Barr's performance didn't end with the music. She grabbed herself and spit on the ground before walking off the field. It was supposed to imitate a ballplayer but from the stands it appeared more as a gesture to the crowd. Blame Padres catcher Mark Parent. A newspaper account the next day said Parent was sitting next to Roseanne in the dugout beforehand and provided the inspiration for that little portion of the incident.

“Hey, why don’t you grab your crotch,” Parent had suggested

“Yeah,” Barr said. “Just like a player. And I’ll spit, too.”

They laughed about it.

“I’ll do it after I sing,” Barr had said. “You know how people are about the anthem.”

She had no idea.
She didn't have any common sense either. Whatever she did there, it was in pretty poor taste and better avoided, but Barr is the kind of comedienne who's too obsessed with pushing the edge of the envelope.
Reporters tried to get to Werner in his luxury box for a comment after the incident, but he refused to come out. [...]
He may have been embarrassed, but then, why did he stick by Barr till the bitter end? The Washington Post says he was blamed for many years, and I'm inclined to agree, seeing how poorly he went about all this. Parent is clearly also guilty on his part of encouraging her to be crude.

And if he could be so irresponsible in his dealings with Barr, that's why I wouldn't be surprised if he knew about Cosby's backstage antics but ignored it all just because he wanted to make all the money he did off of Cosby's sitcoms. In fact, an actress named Eden Tirl, who played a policewoman once on the series, said she'd been assaulted by Cosby but ignored by staff members she spoke to.

After reading those accounts, it's made me lose all respect I once had for Werner and Carsey, whose employment of Barr is exactly why it's no surprise they could ignore all the problems with Cosby to boot. I was losing interest in sitcoms by the end of the last century, and this terrible case has only made me feel all the more discouraged from trying again. Many businesses no longer want anything to do with Cosby, but they should distance themselves from Carsey-Werner too, for being such irresponsible, self-important idiots who let a wolf in sheep's clothing run rampant.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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