Community awaits visit from Cosby

Photo by Carly Farrell

Photo by Carly Farrell

ALBANY, Ga. -- As part of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital's centennial celebration, there is an internationally-known entertainer coming to Albany.

His name is Bill Cosby.

"(The highlight of my career) is the fact that I've been more successful than I have set as a goal," the comedian told The Albany Herald in a phone interview. "I just enjoyed listening to people and watching people who made me laugh.

"Without knowing it, I've developed a style."

Cosby, who portrayed Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable on NBC-TV's popular "The Cosby Show," will be in Albany on Aug. 19 performing a show at the Albany Civic Center.

When word came to him that his act was needed here, he said there were a number of factors that led him to agree to it.

"This is a hospital that serves lower-economic people, and as far as I'm concerned, lower-economic people have a tougher time with insurance and are finding a way into emergency rooms where one has no money," Cosby said. "This is a kind of institution that doesn't turn anybody away. That's very important.

"My performance is something the hospital wants to give to hospital employees (and the public) for a time of laughing. That in itself is a happy feeling."

Lacy Lee, co-chair of Phoebe's centennial celebration committee, said Cosby was brought in to provide a signature event amongst the festivities the hospital has planned throughout the year.

"We were very fortunate (to get him)," Lee said. "We wanted someone with universal appeal. We are looking forward to having him."

The contract to bring Cosby to Albany was signed Aug. 27. The process to get to that point started with a business proposal.

"We talked to him about our part of the country," Lee said. "We explained to him what the hospital means to the community.

"He was so impressed that we had committed to 'Rachel's Challenge.' He was blown away that a hospital was bringing that in."

Rachel's Challenge, an organization aiming to prevent teen violence and bullying, was established in memory of Rachel Scott -- the first to die in the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.

The concept was formally introduced to Albany business leaders and educators on July 14.

The interest in Cosby's visit has reached beyond Albany and into other counties, which is encouraging to the officials coordinating the event.

"We would hope that people would come out and bring their families," Lee said. "I hope there will be families there that otherwise would not hear someone of his caliber."

Tickets are available to the general public at the Civic Center box office for $20-$50. There is a pre-show scheduled at 6 p.m. before Cosby goes on stage at 7 p.m.

In addition to the evening performance, WME Entertainment has confirmed that plans are in the works for Cosby to be on a panel of commentators participating in "A Conversation with Parents" at the Albany Municipal Auditorium.

The event, which will be catered to parents and grandparents of area middle school and high school students, will be from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 19.