Bill Cosby once tried to buy NBC and people didn’t like it
The media speaks about the past of Bill Cosby as if he spent most of his younger years sleeping with young women. But this wasn’t all that he did. In fact, he did a great deal more, making the kinds of major moves rarely seen among any person of color at the time.
One of the things that Cosby attempted to do was make one of the biggest purchases in history, as he sought to buy NBC away from the General Electric Company, who were the owners at the time.
According to the New York Times, Cosby was very serious about trying to make the purchase, and felt confident that he could raise the funds to pull it off. At the time, Norman Brokaw was the man in charge of Cosby’s career. Brokaw was the CEO of the William Morris Agency, and he’d been Cosby’s personal agent for 30 years.
According to Brokaw, Cosby was going to reach out to Robert C. Wright, the president of the network, in order to try to make a deal.
“I told him Bill is definitely interested in buying NBC, and Mr. Wright eventually said that NBC is not for sale,” Brokaw said.
Cosby spoke in detail with his lawyer, Herbert H. Chaice, about making an offer for the network, putting together plans for a potential deal. Mr. Chaice was with the firm of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler, based in Manhattan. He said that he spoke with some investment banks about partnering to raise money for such a massive deal.
“It’s not likely that Bill will do the whole thing, nor would I consider it prudent that he try to,” Mr. Chaice said.
Neither of the men would tell the public how much Cosby was prepared to offer for the network, but such a deal surely would have been in the billions. When Comcast purchased NBC Universal in 2009, a 51% stake was valued at $6.5 billion, making the total purchase price above $13 billion dollars.
At the time, the asking price for NBC was expected to be roughly $4 billion dollars.
Back in 1992, Cosby’s wealth was roughly $300 million dollars. The reason that he made so much more than other entertainers is because he actually owned a percentage of the revenues generated by “The Cosby Show.” Many actors only seek to get a paycheck, but Cosby wanted much more than that.
In fact, Cosby’s hit 1980s show has earned more than a billion dollars in syndication fees.
When the acquisition idea was being considered, Cosby’s agent felt that Bill’s move would be one of love, not power. He also had the goal of using the network’s large platform to create quality television shows that shift American culture in a positive direction.
“Bill has very warm feelings about NBC,” he said. “He got his break there almost 30 years ago in ‘I Spy.’ Then he had the most financially successful show of all time there in the 1980’s.”
Despite Cosby’s overtures, the network maintained that it wasn’t for sale. It also ruffled feathers for an actor and African American to seek out ownership of one of the largest media platforms in the world. How do you think the world would be different had Cosby succeeded?
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