Bill Cosby vows to make TV nicer again

Bill Cosby, 77, wants to see nicer and smarter older people on TV like him and his wife’s 92-year-old mother.

His family doesn’t fight, they “fence” like swashbucklers, he said.

“Everybody is laughing at her punchlines,” Cosby said of his mother-in-law. “She walks two miles, and goes up and down steps. She’s wonderful. She’s clear. She’s always thanking everyone for whatever they’re doing. She doesn’t forget anybody’s name. And she eats forever.”

Consequently, Cosby is creating a new NBC show about smart, sweet grandparents, instead of the bumbling, hot-headed granny characters we often see on TV.

Three decades ago, Cosby played the wise and gentle patriarch Dr. Cliff Huxtable. Now he will portray a grandfather like those who were on the No. 1 hit “Cosby Show.”

I asked Cosby — who performs Friday at Treasure Island — how this 2015 NBC show got off the ground.

“I was writing a thing about trying to help your grandchild with second-grade math,” and he was marveling at how life has changed in 70 years for kids and adults.

Cosby is confident the show will be hilarious, and that it will connect with viewers.

I agree with Cosby’s views about TV seniors.

“I loved my grandmom,” I said, “She taught me to be grateful, and she taught me to be considerate, and she wasn’t angry, she was full of love. Where are these people on TV?”

“Right!” Cosby said. “There’s nothing wrong with it (portraying good people).”

Cosby also wants TV writers to do a better job of creating good kid characters instead of “young bodies with old brains.”

“If you’re a kid growing up, all you have are these shows where grownups are doing children’s voices, and there’s really not much of a story, just a lot of whiz, and noise, and bang. You’re lost in terms of how to deal with each other.”

And husbands and wives on TV seem to bear little relation to actual couples, he said.

Cosby said scripts often seem as if writers went to college, decided to write comedy, then figured it was time to negatively “pay their parents back.”

“The people they want to dice up happen to be their parents,” Cosby said. “They’ve taken parental authority to the point of: I will get you later for this.”

We’ve also become inured to watching violent “slop” movies “where you blow up the world to save the world,” or murder mysteries that make us shrug and say, “Yeah, OK, somebody killed somebody.”

Then I told Cosby something I’ve wanted to tell him all year:

I wrote my first novel earlier this year. It’s in the editing process. And there are no guns in it, there are no chases, there’s no cussing, there’s not even any currency or religion in it. It’s just a sweet tale of kind people, with no artificial conflict, and it’s great.

My girlfriend said, “You’re naughty, how did you end up writing this G-rated feel-good book?” I said, “I keep interviewing Bill Cosby, and it rubbed off.”

Cosby was happy to accept my thanks.

“What you found, I’m sure, is when you got rid of all the typical, it led you to some places where there’s fun,” Cosby said. “And there’s fun in dialogue as your characters speak to you.”

That’s correct, Dr. Cosby.

Doug Elfman’s column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at He blogs at

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