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Magic Turns on Cos: ASPiRE Network Cancels Cosby Programming

One of the two networks still running Bill Cosby reruns — ASPiRE, the channel started by Magic Johnson in 2012 — has finally stopped “monitoring” the media firestorm over multiple assault stories about the popular entertainer. ASPiRE’s schedule no longer lists any episodes of either of the Cosby series the network had continued to run in very heavy rotation throughout the current eruption over accusations by more than 20 women that Cosby drugged and raped them between 1966 and 2004.

[This post has been updated. See below.]

ASPiRE has not responded to requests for comment by phone and email. In the past, a company spokeswoman responded to questions by saying only, “The series are currently running on the network. We are closely monitoring the situation.” The network has put out similar statements to other media in the past but does not appear to have made any statement since canceling its two Cosby-starring series.

Those two series — I Spy, a secret agent buddy show from the mid-1960s that paired Cosby with the late Robert Culp, and The Bill Cosby Show, a no-laughtrack comedy that featured Cosby as a Los Angeles high school teacher — occupied an extensive and important portion of ASPiRE’s schedule. Blocks of the two shows took up at least four hours of every 24-hour programming schedule, and ASPiRE promoted them energetically with interstitial house ads playing up Cosby’s clean comedy and place in entertainment history. As of last week, ASPiRE was apparently still putting together new such interstitials for its Cosby programs, suggesting the decision to cancel the shows was abrupt.

One other channel — BET’s Centric TV — continues to run episodes of The Cosby Show, the star’s biggest popular and critical hit. Tuesday’s Centric lineup will feature an episode in which Rudy hides a note from her teacher summoning Cliff and Clair for a conference, and another in which Theo learns a friend has cancer.

Cosby broke his silence over the weekend by giving some brief comments to the Washington Informer that urged the black media to keep an “open mind” but declined to address the accusations directly.

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for ASPiRE responded to National Review Online after publication. “We can confirm that The Cosby Show and I Spy are no longer running on the network,” Chelsye J. Burrows, the network’s vice president, public relations, tells NRO. “We have no further comment.”


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