ABC executives regret firing Roseanne Barr so hastily over her controversial tweet about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, amid escalating fears that The Conners — the spinoff to Roseanne’s canceled top-rated sitcom — will flop.
The sentiment was echoed by two top ABC executives, who said the network should have suspended — not fired — Roseanne for saying Jarrett resembled a character from the Planet of the Apes.
The executives said that ABC should not have immediately caved into public backlash.
Roseanne Fans Say They Will Not Watch ‘The Conners’
“We didn’t think it through properly,” one ABC executive told the Daily Mail. “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. This would have given them more time to listen to the public, advertisers and cast members to determine the best decision,” the ABC insider explained.
Channing Dungey, who’s African-American, is the president of ABC, while Ben Sherwood is the head of Disney-ABC.
Ben Sherwood is the brother of Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, a former adviser to Barack Obama. Valerie Jarrett also served as an adviser to Obama.
Both Dungey and Sherwood reacted to the social-media uproar over Barr’s tweet by immediately firing her and canceling the Roseanne reboot, which was the No. 1 scripted TV series at the time ABC pulled the plug.
A second top executive told the Daily Mail that they should have listened when Barr repeatedly asked them, ‘What can I do? What can I do?’ to make amends.
Roseanne — who’s Jewish — apologized for her tweet and insisted it had no racial undertones because she thought the light-skinned Valerie Jarrett was white.
When the Roseanne reboot was canceled, it wasn’t just Barr who lost her job — her cast mates, crew, scores of writers, assistant producers, and other personnel who worked on the show were also out of work.
“We could’ve made this a story line for her to save the show and redeem her publicly,” the executive said.
‘People Want Roseanne; They Don’t Want the Family’
What ABC did instead was to kill off Roseanne Conner (Barr’s on-screen TV character) and continue the spinoff without her.
The Conners will premiere on October 16, and ABC top brass is terrified because research indicates that Barr’s fans are still furious over her firing and vowed to boycott The Conners.
When we greenlit The Conners we thought that the public would tune in to see the family return, but what we’ve discovered is that people want Roseanne. They don’t want the family by themselves.”
Roseanne Barr’s co-star and longtime TV husband, John Goodman, defended the actress, saying she is definitely not racist.
“I know for a fact that she’s not a racist,” Goodman told the Sunday Times.
Similarly, actress Mo’Nique said she has known Barr for many years, and can personally attest that she is not racist, Fox News reported.
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Mo’Nique said there were many times during her career where Roseanne Barr encouraged and supported her at a time when everyone else in Hollywood turned their backs on her.