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Bill Cosby, NBC Private Eye: Nonviolent Murder, He Wrote

TIMES STAFF WRITER

For his return to NBC, Bill Cosby is planning to play a private detective who works in New York and solves crimes without a lot of on-screen violence.

“More and more on TV programs, you see a man slap a woman around, you see a guy shot and fall back into the blood,” Cosby said in an interview Thursday. “There are going to be crimes committed in my new series, but these are going to be real suspense stories, with mystery writers and, I hope, the humor I will bring to the character.”

Cosby, whose sitcom “The Cosby Show” helped propel NBC to prime-time dominance during the 1980s, will begin appearing in the role next season, in several two-hour TV movies. It is scheduled to become a weekly series in the 1994-95 season.

The inspiration for the show, Cosby said, was “The Thomas Crown Affair,” a stylish 1968 film starring Steve McQueen and Fay Dunaway.

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Cosby is no stranger to the hourlong mystery format: He starred from 1965 to 1968 in “I Spy,” also for NBC.

The actor and producer said that he had decided on New York as the locale for his new series “not as an anti-L.A. thing” but as a way to showcase a side of the city that he feels is not usually seen in its “gritty” depiction on television, both in news and entertainment programming.

Cosby, who was reported to be interested in purchasing NBC several months ago, said that he remains interested. “I’m still thinking about buying NBC,” he said. “We’re still having serious meetings"--adding that he was referring to a “consortium of people” who are involved. He declined to say anything further.


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