As ABC braces for the October 16 debut of The Conners, a spin-off series based on the family from the hit show Roseanne, two senior executives admitted to fearing that Roseanne Barr’s absence will cause the show to flop. Further, Barr’s firing was labeled a “knee-jerk reaction” to the controversial tweet posted by the star.
Roseanne, the popular sitcom, was rebooted and appeared to be a hit. However, in May, a second season of the show was abruptly axed after Barr, 65, posted a racist tweet aimed at Valeria Jarrett, a former Obama aide.
“Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby= vj,” the tweet read.
Barr was soon fired from the show but, according to a report by the Daily Mail, two senior executives at ABC aren’t sure that was a wise choice.
“We didn’t think it through properly. 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,” said one of the ABC insiders.
“This would have given them more time to listen to the public, advertisers and cast members to determine the best decision.”
“They could’ve suspended her from the first few episodes without pay and had her return later on in the season. I mean the season finale saw Roseanne going to the hospital for knee surgery,” one source added.
“While they worked out her fate, her character could have faced serious complications and fought for her life, while simultaneously making Roseanne fight for her career with a national apology tour.”
According to the source, “Roseanne kept saying on the call before she was fired “What can I do? What can I do?” 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.”
Though Barr expressed a willingness to apologize and take whatever steps were deemed necessary, ABC decided to fire her and cancel the show.
Now, the network appears concerned that viewers who were upset by Barr’s firing won’t watch 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,” said the second source. “They don’t want the family by themselves.”
In September, during an interview, Barr stated that her character was going to be killed off by an opioid overdose, highlighting the finality of ABC’s initial decision.