Seven years ago this month I interviewed Bill Cosby because he was coming to Maine to perform at the Augusta Civic Center June 24.

It was a phone interview, and we talked about a variety of things, including “The Cosby Show,” his family-oriented sitcom that aired from 1984 to 1992.

I asked Cosby, who was 73 at the time, what he thought of new sitcoms, and he said he didn’t like them because they were laced with profanity.

“I don’t do it and I certainly am not going to do it just because it is accepted — and the reason is not any form of arrogance, but because I enjoy the spoken word, without tempering and titillating,” he said.

That was 2011, and my Cosby story ran on May 15 that year in both the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal. His performance in Augusta was June 24.

I recall very clearly the odd dynamics that occurred during my interview with Cosby, who was speaking from his home in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

It was long before any allegations had surfaced regarding Cosby and sexual assault, and I just assumed he would be funny, talkative and colorful in the interview.

He was talkative enough, but a strange sort of thing happened when I asked him questions: He went off on his own tangents and sometimes answered my questions and sometimes didn’t.

It was difficult to corral his narrative so that I could establish a rhythm, glean information about his life and projects and inquire about his current and future plans. I typically like to ask interviewees about childhood influences and how they got into their line of work and so on.

But every time I asked a question, Cosby just talked about what he wanted to talk about, whether it had any relation to what I was asking or not.

At first I chalked it up to his artistic nature or penchant for ad libbing. After all, many people in the entertainment world have their own way of expressing themselves and I typically adjust to that.

We talked for a good while and then, out of the blue, he said someone was coming through the door and he had to go. I don’t think he even said “good-bye” before he hung up the phone.

I managed to get a story out of the interview that wasn’t half bad, considering it jumped around a bit.

But the more I thought about the interview, the more I realized Cosby had totally controlled it — that he either hadn’t bothered to hear my questions and just pontificated about whatever he wanted to, or he was completely disregarding me and my efforts, almost as if to say this was his game, not mine.

We were cordial enough to each other during the interview, though I never felt I connected with him the way I have with other celebrities I’ve interviewed over the years, many of whom were guests or award recipients at the Maine International Film Festival held annually in Waterville.

Most of those actors, directors and producers were fascinating, forthcoming, amiable and grateful for the exposure.

But that was not the case with Cosby.

When the allegations about his drugging, assaulting and raping women surfaced, part of me wasn’t surprised.

Though we were many miles apart during the interview and it was by phone, Cosby controlled the exchange in a forceful but subtle way.

They say sexual assault is all about control, and though my experience with him was nowhere near as traumatic and destructive as that of other women, I still got a little taste of his tendency to control.

It was almost as if I were not there — that he was talking to a wall; no connection or warm exchange of words as often has occurred during the thousands of interviews I have conducted over 30 years.

Now, when I see Cosby on the news, walking to and from the courthouse with his entourage, I recall our interview and feel terribly sorry and sad for the women he brutally assaulted and managed to silence or defeat in court.

When, after he was convicted April 26 of three counts of sexual assault and called the prosecuting district attorney an expletive, it was an obvious out-of-control response to his inability — this time — to control. And so much for his claim to me that he didn’t believe in spewing expletives.

In the end, bullies and predators get their due, if all the stars are aligned.

Though the deep pain he wreaked upon his victims can’t be erased, at least they can feel justice has been served — and hopefully, find some modicum of closure.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter for 30 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to

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