Executives at ABC are reportedly feeling somewhat remorseful and perhaps a tad guilty about the removal a few months back of lead star Roseanne Barr from the hit series “Roseanne” over a controversial tweet that she had posted.
The apprehension currently taking place is due in part to the imminent first episode airing of what is essentially the "Roseanne" television show minus its lead star Barr.
Renamed "The Conners," the sitcom keeps intact most of the same characters, settings, and storylines of the original, but the revised version has a major missing element, that being Barr herself, who in addition to being the show’s main character served as executive producer and co-writer.
Even prior to her career-changing tweet, media figures were criticizing the show because Barr’s character, like Barr herself, was an avid supporter of President Donald Trump.
It was only a few hours after news of her tweet went public that Barr was summarily dismissed. The termination occurred in May 2018, just three months following the show’s hugely successful premiere.
The UK Daily Mail recently quoted two senior ABC executives, who indicated to the newspaper that some doubts and trepidation exist regarding "The Conners" and acknowledged that terminating Barr was a rushed decision by Ben Sherwood, Disney Media Networks Co-Chairman and President of Disney-ABC Television, and Channing Dungey, President of the ABC Entertainment Group.
"We didn’t think it through properly," one of the executives said. "What Roseanne did was wrong but we shouldn’t have rushed to fire her. It was almost a knee-jerk reaction by Ben and Channing who should have launched an investigation."
According to the executive, an investigation "would have given them more time to listen to the public, advertisers, and cast members to determine the best decision."
After the network announced the cancellation of Barr’s series, the mainstream media and liberals en masse praised ABC for acting quickly. However, many entertainment business professionals raised questions about why alternatives to complete termination were not offered, such as a temporary hiatus from the show.
"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," an ABC executive said.
The exec noted that Barr’s fate could have been determined during the period in which her television character faced serious health complications and was struggling to survive. This would also have given Barr the opportunity to restore her career and personal reputation with select media appearances.
According to an ABC executive, on the day that her tweet made headlines Barr had "offered to publicly apologize and do the rounds of every show, but Ben and Channing 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?'"
The source indicated that the writers could have written the Twitter controversy into the sitcom to allow the show and star to obtain public forgiveness.
"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."
Based on feedback from marketing and publicity professionals who are working on “The Conners,” ABC executives may have good reason to be apprehensive about the show’s fast-approaching debut.
The marketing and public relations people for the show are apparently "horrified" since, as one of the ABC executives revealed, "No matter what promotional material is released . . . Roseanne’s fans come out in force stating that they won’t watch the show."
According to the Daily Mail, top brass at ABC are also aware that posts on social media platforms align strongly against the idea of viewing a show without Barr.
"The comments on social media tend to skew in favor of Roseanne and slam 'The Conners' and the cast members who came back. Even dedicated fans of the Conner family feel conflicted about supporting a show that so swiftly eliminated the show’s matriarch and creator,” an ABC executive said.
Upon her exit, Barr agreed to have no creative or financial ties with the new series.
It is likely that ABC executives are experiencing regret over another hasty decision that was made by the television network, this being the one made to cancel Tim Allen’s hit comedy "Last Man Standing" after six successful seasons. Interestingly, Allen’s character, like Allen himself, is also a supporter of President Trump.
With a lateral shift to the FOX television network, "Last Man Standing" currently enjoys even better ratings than it had at ABC. In fact, the sitcom is FOX’s most-watched comedy in almost seven years.
Typically, a change in networks fails to give a television show an increase in its audience size. However, FOX’s premiere of "Last Man Standing" drew 8 million viewers, with an astounding 1.8 rating among adults 18-49.
"Standing"'s season 7 premiere came in at much bigger numbers than the show’s season 6 premiere last fall on ABC, when it was only able to draw 5.9 million viewers and snag a 1.1 rating.
For three weeks straight now, the FOX comedy has dominated the difficult Friday prime time ratings and holds a commanding 1.4 rating for the coveted younger demographic.
Meanwhile ABC and its senior executives have had to endure abysmal ratings for the network’s entire Friday prime time lineup, which consists of soon-to-be-cancelled sitcoms "Fresh Off the Boat" (0.5 rating), "Speechless" (0.5 rating), and "Child Support" (0.4 rating).
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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