LOS ANGELES — "The Cosby Show" alum Malcolm-Jamal Warner says the series' legacy is "tarnished" by the sexual assault allegations made against Bill Cosby.
"My biggest concern is when it comes to images of people of color on television and film, no matter what ... negative stereotypes of people of color, we've always had 'The Cosby Show' to hold up against that. And the fact that we no longer have that, that's the thing that saddens me the most because in a few generations the Huxtables will have been just a fairy tale," said Warner, who starred as Cosby's son, Theo Huxtable, on the long-running NBC sitcom.
"The legacy can't help but be tarnished. ...'The Cosby Show' was part of the fiber of American culture so to see that, to see that the show doesn't necessarily have the same sheen that it once did, is definitely a downer," he said.
Warner said he has been in touch with Cosby, but he would not comment on their conversations.
"I think the things that we discussed really have to stay private between us. But it's just a bad situation all around — for him, for his family, the women, their families, the legacy of the show," said Warner during an interview Thursday.
On Friday, 29 Cosby accusers are set to talk about their allegations on a "Dateline NBC" special. Three separate lawsuits have been filed against him. Cosby has never been charged, and has denied some of the allegations.
Warner, who won his first Grammy earlier this year for his work on Robert Glasper's "Jesus Children," is currently promoting his new album, "Selfless," out now.
He describes the third record with his band Miles Long as "funky passionate vulnerability."
Warner is also filming "American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson," directed by Ryan Murphy. He plays Simpson's friend Al "A.C." Cowlings.
"I grew up with a maniacal obsession with not wanting to be one of those 'Where Are They Now Kids,' " said Warner of his busy year. "I feel very blessed to be able to have all of these avenues of expression ... to be where I am now and finally at a place where I can let go of that worry about having a life after 'Cosby.' "