The powers that be at ABC are concerned about how successful — or unsuccessful — the new “Roseanne” spinoff, “The Connors,” might be now that Roseanne Barr is no longer at the helm.
A report published this week by the Daily Mail revealed two unnamed senior executives at the network feel the snap decision to fire Barr in May was a “knee-jerk” reaction by ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey.
“We didn’t think it through properly,” the sources said. “What Roseanne did was wrong, but we shouldn’t have rushed to fire her. It was almost a knee-jerk reaction by Ben [Sherwood] and Channing [Dungey], who should have launched an investigation.”
The decision to immediately fire Barr and cancel the successful “Roseanne” revival came after the controversial comedian posted a tweet about former Obama administration official Valerie Jarrett. The tweet was deemed racist.
Barr, for her part, denied the post was racially charged and claimed she didn’t known Jarrett was black.
The executives who spoke to the Daily Mail said it would have been wiser to temporarily suspend Barr rather than fire her altogether. They said an investigation “would have given them more time to listen to the public, advertisers and cast members to determine the best decision.”
Barr even offered to make the rounds on every morning talk show to apologize publicly for her ill-advised tweet, but Dungey and Sherwood “weren’t having any of that and wanted her gone.”
“Roseanne kept saying on the call before she was fired, ‘What can I do? What can I do?’” they explained. “Fans of her show have watched her character confront prejudice and racism — we could’ve made this a storyline for her to save the show and redeem her publicly.”
But the damage has been done, and Barr isn’t coming back.
Initially, the sources said, they thought viewers would be interested in seeing the Connor family. Now, though, ABC’s leaders aren’t so sure.
“What we’ve discovered is that people want Roseanne — they don’t want the family by themselves,” they said. “The marketing and publicity teams are horrified, as no matter what promotional material is released — and let’s be honest; it’s been limited for a show that launches next Tuesday — Roseanne’s fans come out in force stating that they won’t watch the show.”
“The Connors” premieres on ABC Tuesday, Oct. 16.