Cast of 'The Cosby Show' minus Lisa Bonet reunites at TV Land Awards
When is a TV show reunion not a real reunion?
When one of the key cast members is missing.
That's what happened Sunday when the cast of the groundbreaking "The Cosby Show" got together to celebrate the series at the TV Land Awards.
Though most of the cast, including Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Sabrina Le Beauf and Tempestt Bledsoe, attended the festivities, there was one notable absence -- Lisa Bonet, who played teenage daughter Denise when the show premiered.
Spokespersons for the event said Bonet was invited but didn't attend "due to a scheduling conflict." However, her absence was not all that surprising: Bonet has had a fractious relationship with the series, declining to participate in previous retrospectives.
In an interview in the Washington Post in 2002 about her decision to skip an NBC retrospective, "The Cosby Show: A Look Back," Bonet said, "The whole experience and energy behind it felt disingenuous and motivated by corporate profit. I felt devalued and disrespected."
Bonet was one of the most popular characters when "The Cosby Show" premiered on NBC in 1984. The sitcom, which featured Cosby and Rashad as the Huxtables, the upscale parents of five children, was credited with reinvigorating NBC and the sitcom format. It also revolutionized the portrayals of African American families on TV.
The actress was the star of a 1987 spin-off, "A Different World," in which her character went off to attend Hillman College, a fictional black school. But she left following the first season after announcing that she and rocker husband Lenny Kravitz were having a baby. She provoked controversy when she appeared nude in the 1987 film "Angel Heart."
Bonet, who changed her name legally to Lilakoi Moon, has appeared sporadically in films during the last several years, and had a featured role in ABC's "Life On Mars" in 2008. She and Kravitz are divorced, but their daughter, Zoe Kravitz, has appeared in several films.
-- Greg Braxton
Photo: Bill Cosby addresses the audience at the TV Land Awards, accompanied by "Cosby Show" cast members Credit: Charles Sykes / Associated Press