Executives at ABC now believe that their decision to fire Roseanne Barr from their revival of Roseanne was a mistake and the network’s spin-off series The Conners may flop, according to a report from Mail Online.
Two senior executives at the network told the outlet that ABC President Channing Dungey’s decision to immediately fire the actress and cancel her show after she made racially charged comments about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett was a “knee-jerk” decision that they would later regret.
“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,” one insider reportedly said. “This would have given them more time to listen to the public, advertisers and cast members to determine the best decision.”
Barr compared Jarrett to if the ‘Muslim brotherhood & Planet of the Apes had a baby,” comments that were condemned by Dungey as “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.” Yet one insider apparently suggested that ABC should instead have temporarily suspended her before making a final decision.
“They could’ve suspended her from the first few episodes without pay and had her return later on in the season,” the source explained. “I mean the season finale saw Roseanne going to the hospital for knee surgery. 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. “
“The morning the racist tweet scandal blew up, Roseanne 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,” they continued. “Why not have her front a PSA for the network on racism and cyberbullying?”
Since Barr’s firing, the network has produced The Conners, a spinoff of Roseanne that premieres next week. However, another senior insider revealed to Mail Online that internal fears are that the new show will flop because of people’s loyalty to Barr and her character.
“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,” they explained.
“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 comments on social media tend to skew in favor of Roseanne and slam The Conners and the cast members who came back,” they added. “Even dedicated fans of the Conner family feel conflicted about supporting a show that so swiftly eliminated the show’s matriarch and creator.”
Last month, Barr revealed that the network plans to kill her character off with an opioid overdose, after her character ended the last season revealing an addiction to painkillers.
That same source added that some figures within the company believe the show will attract less than a quarter of the viewership of Roseanne, a scenario that would leave Dungey with “many questions to answer.”
“In the end, the ratings are all that matter – and there are many people at Disney and ABC who are worried that firing Roseanne will see their Tuesday night ratings drop substantially,” they continued. “And should The Conners flop, Channing and her team will have many questions to answer. The whisper across ABC is that they will not even be a quarter of what Roseanne achieved last season.”
In July, Barr accused ABC of firing her because of her support for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, a position she said was “not allowed in Hollywood.”