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A version of this story first appeared in the July 31 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
When Mark Whitaker’s Cosby: His Life and Times debuted on Sept. 16, 2014, it hit shelves with an enviable roster of A-listers singing the praises of the first major biography of the veteran comedian — as well as its subject. But as the shocking revelations continue to unspool due to now-unsealed depositions (in which Bill Cosby admits to obtaining quaaludes to seduce women in the 1970s for sexual purposes), those stars have pulled back on their endorsements.
Billy Crystal, Jerry Seinfeld, David Letterman, Mary Tyler Moore and Wynton Marsalis are among the names that gush about Cosby, either on the back cover or on promotional materials still being used to sell the book on websites including Amazon. “I know certain religions forbid idol worship. If anyone ever told me I had to stop idolizing Bill Cosby, I would say, ‘Sorry, but I’m out of this religion.’ So if you want to join the Religion of Cosby, as I did back in 1966, Mark Whitaker’s wonderful new book would be our Bible,” Seinfeld says on the back cover. But not for long. Tom Keaney, who represents both Seinfeld and Letterman, tells THR in a statement, “We were unaware that those quotes were still in circulation, and are asking the publisher to refrain from their future use.”
Reps for Crystal, Moore and Marsalis did not respond to THR’s requests for comment.
Simon & Schuster spokesperson Cary Goldstein adds that as of Wednesday morning all of the endorsements have been removed from online retailers. It’s unclear if and when a paperback edition will be published, though it’s not expected that the endorsements will appear on any future editions of the book.
Whitaker’s book has been criticized for ignoring the rape and sexual assault allegations Cosby has faced over the years, claims that have snowballed as over 40 women have now come forward. Two months after publication, Whitaker tweeted an apology: “I was wrong not to deal with the sexual assault charges against Cosby and pursue them more aggressively.”