Cosby Critical of `Public Morals' New Sitcom's Language Is Offensive, He Says
McAlister, Nancy, The Florida Times Union
PASADENA, Calif. -- Bill Cosby, never one to mince words,
leveled a few critical ones in the direction of a new fall
sitcom. It happens to be on his own network.
The new show is Public Morals, created by Steven Bochco,
producer of the once-controversial NYPD Blue. The CBS show is
about members of a New York vice squad charged with keeping the
city sleaze-free. Cosby suggested the pilot may be a prime
In that first half hour -- which may or may not air as is --
the word "whore" is used at least a dozen times. But what's
drawn most of the criticism is the slang words for lesbians and
male and female anatomy that pepper the script. Cosby called it
pushing the envelope. And he didn't mean that as a compliment.
"I've always had a problem with these new shows," said the
Emmy-winning actor, whose new sitcom Cosby will join the NBC
schedule next month at 8 p.m. on Mondays. "They tried to do that
on The Cosby Show once."
In that instance, the script called for a character to say "And
we're gonna go someplace and kick butt." Cosby informed the
writer that "butt" was not a punchline, nor could it be in a
That, of course, has become common on TV, but Cosby is
concerned that Public Morals is taking it much further.
"They have nine people sitting around a table who call
themselves writers, and the best they can come up with is [the
offending term]! And that's a punchline!"
Cosby implied it was a case of a producer using the audience
"to satisfy some sort of adolescence and immaturity."
"It's important that we try to push the minds of those who've
studied English literature, American literature and try to put
it on television," said Cosby, who's also a best-selling author
and who earned a doctorate in education in 1977.
And Cosby isn't the only one who has expressed an opinion about
the Public Morals pilot. Several CBS affiliates are concerned
about it enough to discuss preempting the show, according to CBS
entertainment chief Leslie Moonves. He called Public Morals a
controversial show that has also prompted questions from
advertisers. Whether the language of the pilot will change
before airtime is under discussion.
Sherry Burns, vice president and general manager of WJXT TV-4,
CBS's Jacksonville affiliate, said she wasn't particularly
comfortable with the pilot of Public Morals , which she saw at
the annual affiliates meeting earlier this year.
"I felt that the language was little strong," she said, adding
that she would welcome it if Bochco decided to tone the show