ABC cancels ‘Roseanne’ reboot; other networks drop ‘Roseanne’ reruns after Roseanne Barr tweets racist comment

May 29, 2018

by Jim Larson

The cast of the “Roseanne” reboot, with Roseanne Barr pictured front row and center. Also pictured, clockwise from bottom left: Sara Gilbert, Laurie Metcalf, John Goodman, Sarah Chalke, Lecy Goranson and Michael Fishman. (Photo courtesy of ABC)

ABC has abruptly cancelled the reboot of “Roseanne” after the show’s star/creator Roseanne Barr tweeted a racist comment about Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser of Barack Obama. Barr has since deleted the tweet and made a public apology, but the damage has been done.

On May 29, 2018, Barr tweeted this comment in a discussion about Valerie Jarrett: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj”

Jarrett was born in Iran to African-American parents.

Just hours after Barr tweeted the offensive comment, ABC president of entertainment Channing Dungey released this statement announcing that “Roseanne” had been cancelled: “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.”

Robert Iger, the chairman/CEO of Disney (ABC’s parent company), added in a tweet: “There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.”

In addition, Hulu, Laff, Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT have all dropped “Roseanne” reruns from their lineups. Laff announced in a statement: “While we believe viewers have always distinguished the personal behavior of the actress Roseanne Barr from the television character Roseanne Conner, we are disgusted by Barr’s comments this week. Therefore, we are removing the original ‘Roseanne’ series from the Laff schedule for the time being, effective immediately.

Barr has also been dropped from the agency ICM Partners. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this email was issued internally at ICM: “We are all greatly distressed by the disgraceful and unacceptable tweet from Roseanne Barr this morning. What she wrote is antithetical to our core values, both as individuals and as an agency. Consequently, we have notified her that we will not represent her. Effective immediately, Roseanne Barr is no longer a client.”

Barr’s apology stated: ““I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me-my joke was in bad taste. I am now leaving Twitter.”

“Roseanne” co-star/executive producer Sara Gilbert, who is credited with the idea to reboot the show, tweeted this statement after the news broke about the show’s cancellation: “Roseanne’s recent comments about Valerie Jarrett, and so much more, are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show. I am disappointed in her actions to say the least.  This is incredibly sad and difficult for all of us, as we’ve created a show that we believe in, are proud of, and that audiences love— one that is separate and apart from the opinions and words of one cast member.”

ABC’s original incarnation of “Roseanne,”  a comedy show about a working-class American family, was on the air from 1988 to 1997. The reboot, which featured all the original cast members, premiered on March 27, 2018, to 18.44 million U.S. viewers. The show was then renewed for an 11th season three days later.

Although the “Roseanne” reboot was one of the highest-rated comedy shows of the 2017-2018 TV season, the show’s return came with some controversy because of Barr’s right-wing political views (including conspiracy theories) that she openly expressed in interviews and on social media. Barr is a supporter of Donald Trump, as was her Roseanne Conner character on the show. The “Roseanne” reboot addressed how Trump’s presidency affected the Conner family, including Roseanne Conner’s temporary estrangement from her sister Jackie (played by Laurie Metcalf), who supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Barr is not new to controversy over political or patriotic issues. In 1990, she caused a firestorm of criticism when she grabbed her crotch and spit on the ground after she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at a San Diego Padres game. Many people thought her off-key shrieking of the song was also offensive because she seemed to be disrespecting the values of the National Anthem. In 2009, Barr (who was raised Jewish) posed as Adolf Hitler in a feature article for Heeb, a satirical Jewish magazine.

In 2012, Barr had an unsuccessful campaign to become president of the United States on the Green Party ticket and later on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. The 2016 documentary film “Roseanne for President!” covered her troubled campaign, which included her vice-presidential running mate Cindy Sheehan quitting the campaign over disagreements with Barr.

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