"Dallas" is back on the air, Michael J. Fox is not only back in primetime, but on NBC Thursday nights, and remakes of everything from "Star Trek" to "Murder, She Wrote" are in development. And in the midst of that trend to bring viewers' classic favorites back to the future, the networks should be aware: Bill Cosby has not one, but two shows he'd like to take to primetime.
While talking to Yahoo TV this week about his Nov. 23 Comedy Central concert special "Bill Cosby: Far From Finished" — his first televised concert special in 30 years — the Emmy-winning comedian and seminal TV dad shared that he's developing a new series … a family comedy.
Nearly 30 years after "The Cosby Show" debuted, Cosby has re-teamed with one of that series' executive producers, Tom Werner, to develop a family comedy that he says "would [satisfy] the people who have come to me in public places and said, 'Can't you put something on that I can watch?'"
"I want to be able to deliver a wonderful show to [a] network," says Cosby, 76, whose iconic Cliff Huxtable regularly takes the No. 1 spot on lists of all-time great TV fathers. "Because there is a viewership out there that wants to see comedy, and warmth, and love, and surprise, and cleverness, without going into the party attitude.
"They would like to see a married couple that acts like they love each other, warts and all, children who respect the parenting, and the comedy of people who make mistakes. Warmth and forgiveness. So I hope to get that opportunity, and I will deliver the best of Cosby, and that will be a series, I assume, that we could get enough people week after week after week to tune in to, to come along with us."
He's not, he stressed, looking to remake "The Cosby Show"; the new series "is a work in respect to the family, that the children sit with the parents and watch, but it's not like little children sitting around, it's like a 28-year-old with the mother, a 28-year-old son taking his father somewhere … I'm talking about how viewers would be able to sit and share and then, using your mouth" — instead of phones, or email, or social media — "to talk to each other," Cosby says.
And, hey, hey, hey, Cosby has another project in the works, an update on his 1972-85 animated series "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids." The CBS series, which was based on Cosby's stories about his childhood friends in Philadelphia, already spawned a 2004 live-action big-screen movie with "Saturday Night Live" star Kenan Thompson in the titular role. But Cosby's idea is to bring Fat Albert back to TV as an animated program that, like the original, would also feature his live-action wraparounds.
Cosby has already teamed with Tom Straw — a writer and producer on shows like "Nurse Jackie," "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson," "Night Court," Mary Tyler Moore's short-lived 1985-86 comedy "Mary," and Cosby's own post-"Cosby Show" comedy "Cosby" — to create the new Fat Albert.
"It's got to be animated, every bit of it. Maybe except for yours truly saying, 'I told you this is going to be funny, and if you pay attention, you just might learn something,'" Cosby says, repeating the line he used to introduce episodes of the original series, which was released on DVD as "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids: The Complete Series" in June.
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"I want some network to say to us, 'Alright, we're going to give you the money to do one show,' just to lay it out … I just want one shot, because I know that what I am envisioning … they've never seen anything like this on TV. The laughter, the stories," says Cosby.
"And this has nothing to do with what Tom Werner and I are doing. This is separate. I just want two things: I want a shot for Fat Albert, half hour, because I've got the story. And [for] the other show, Tom Werner and I will work it so that this thing has the Cosby feel and the respect for the audience."
"Bill Cosby: Far From Finished" premieres on Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. on Comedy Central