Director-producer Judd Apatow called out embattled comedian Bill Cosby on Twitter this past Friday, arguing that the 77-year-old should “speak publicly” about mounting accusations that he drugged and/or raped several women over several decades.
“It is not extortion when most of the accusers do not want anything,” Apatow tweeted at a fan who was defending Cosby as “innocent until proven” guilty during a Twitter chat. The “Knocked Up” writer-director went on to criticize the Canadian venue Centre in the Square for still hosting a scheduled show by the comedian on Jan. 7.
“I always wonder why some people try so hard to not believe women who have been assaulted,” he added. “What is the root of that?” Apatow has been one of the most successful comedic voices in Hollywood over the last decade. He is widely credited with popularizing “frat pack” comedies starring the likes of Seth Rogen and James Franco. This month, Apatow was one of the more prominent voices calling for Sony to release that duo’s controversial comedy “The Interview.”
Cosby has not been charged with a crime and has denied past accusations. Although he has said he doesn’t want to speak about the recent spate of accusations publicly, his attorney Marty Singer released statements calling the allegations “fantastical” and “unsubstantiated.”
Apatow is part of a small chorus of comedians to speak negatively about Cosby in the wake of the sexual assault controversy. Cosby’s former rival sitcom star Roseanne Barr has made pointed social media posts about the allegations. In November, she shared a bloody photo of herself following a chemical peel and said she “joked about tussling Cosby.” The outspoken actress later said Cosby should condemn the state of Israel to redeem his reputation.
Comedian Chris Rock, who has made no secret about the fact that he idolizes Cosby as a stand up, nevertheless conceded that the accusations of sexual assault against the former “Cosby Show” star were damning. In a December New York magazine interview, the “Top Five” star said that while he hoped that allegations weren’t true, “It’s a weird year for comedy. We lost Robin, we lost Joan, and we kind of lost Cosby.”
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Still, a few of Cosby’s peers have come to his defense. Two of the most prominent voices urging support for Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg and Jill Scott, received personal thanks from the comedian on Twitter.
Nevertheless, the stories of accusers – which include model Beverly Johnson – have taken a toll on Cosby’s career. He has seen a planned Netflix special shelved and an in-development NBC sitcom canceled. TV Land has stopped showing repeats of “The Cosby Show” and multiple dates on his ongoing “Far From Finished” stand-up comedy tour have been canceled. Meanwhile, colleges and universities previously affiliated with the comedy icon have cut ties with him amid the controversy.