Roseanne Without Roseanne? Why ABC Couldn't Fire Roseanne Barr Without Scrapping the Series
"Roseanne was created by Roseanne Barr. The characters were conceived by her and Matt Williams. If the sitcom were to continue without the matriarch, the actress would still benefit financially," EW reported
Although ABC decided to swiftly cancel the reboot this week following Barr’s racist remark about Valerie Jarrett, sources told Entertainment Weekly on Wednesday “that ABC has not exactly washed its hands of the family comedy.”
But herein lies the challenge: In addition to being the face (Roseanne Conner) of the sitcom, Barr is the creator of the original 1988 series and its revival.
“Roseanne was created by Roseanne Barr. The characters were conceived by her and Matt Williams. If the sitcom were to continue without the matriarch, the actress would still benefit financially,” EW reported.
An ABC insider also told EW that “it was that specific tweet — that if the actress had never done anything remotely like that before, then perhaps things might have gone differently, but that specific Jarrett tweet was so over the line that it left the network no choice.”
“She’s allowed to have an opinion but this was different … this was untenable,” the source told EW. “Sometimes you just have to take a stand.”
According to the outlet, the network was having discussions Wednesday about the possibility of “whether it makes sense to keep the other actors but potentially design a new series around them — ergo, the Bonners, or whatever you want to call Goodman, Metcalf, and the clan of misfits. Nothing has been decided, however, and various options are still being weighed.”
Barr, 65, prompted the cancellation of her show earlier this week when she likened Jarrett to an “ape” in a since-deleted tweet. She has since claimed that she didn’t know Jarrett is black — and that she was on Ambien while tweeting.
The star apologized to the “wonderful writers (all liberal) and talented actors who lost their jobs on my show due to my stupid tweet,” and she also expressed her regret over two costars in particular: John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf.
“I just wish ABC had not thrown two of the greatest actors in the world out with me — Laurie and John,” Barr tweeted Wednesday night. “I’m so sick over this — they will never have better character actors on their network.”
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On Thursday, Barr tweeted that she “begged Ben Sherwood at ABC 2 let me apologize & make amends,” referencing the Disney/ABC Television Group president.
“I begged them not to cancel the show. I told them I was willing to do anything & asked 4 help in making things right,” she continued. “I’d worked doing publicity4 them 4free for weeks, traveling, thru bronchitis. I begged4 ppls jobs.”
She added, “He said: what were you thinking when you did this? I said: I thought she was white, she looks like my family! He scoffed & said: “what u have done is egregious, and unforgivable.’ I begged 4 my crews jobs. Will I ever recover from this pain? omg.”
She also expressed her regret to actress Jayden Rey, who played Mary Connor, the daughter of DJ (Michael Fishman) and his African-American wife Geena (Xosha Roquemore) on the show.
“I think I’ll b better tomorrow. The saddest part of all is 4 Jayden Rey on the show whom I grew2 love so much & am so ashamed of myself that she would ever think I do not love her bc she is African American,” Barr tweeted. “It’s the most gawd awful painful thing. I can’t let myself cave in tho.”
“I end by offering everyone involved one more apology and prayers for healing of our divided nation,” she wrote in another tweet. “Tomorrow is Shabbat and I will continue to pray that everything for everyone goes forward & ends well for all. signing off twitter for a while. love u guys!”