Sold-out Cosby show goes ahead amid sex assault claims
By Barbara Liston, Piya Sinha-Roy and Eric Kelsey
MELBOURNE Fla./LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Bill Cosby played a sold-out comedy show on Friday in Florida, despite a wave of sexual assault allegations this week that prompted the cancellation of several upcoming shows and two major studios to halt projects involving the comedian.
Cosby, 77, took the stage to a standing ovation and gave the audience a thumbs up at the King Center in Melbourne. The 90-minute show concluded without incident.
Police patrolled the venue ahead of the show, while a handful of protesters joined some attendees outside the center.
"I don't want it reported that nobody cared, said Julie LeMaitre, 47, who carried a sign that said, "Rape is no joke."
Although the show was sold out, there were patches of empty seats, including eight in the center of the orchestra section.
The show went ahead despite the cancellation of Cosby's Las Vegas performance next week and four other shows in Arizona, Illinois, South Carolina and Washington state next year. With NBC and Netflix also dropping projects with the comedian this week, the allegations have threatened Cosby's wholesome public image and future viability in show business.
Still, many ticketholders said they had no qualms about attending the comedian's performance.
"It's his personal life, and I don't really care," said Melbourne resident Russ McDonald, 62, a retired teacher. Continued...