‘Roseanne’ Canceled by ABC After Star Makes Racial Slur
(Bloomberg) -- “Roseanne,” the top new show of the season, was canceled by ABC after series star Roseanne Barr made a racial slur on social media about a member of the Obama administration.
“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, said in a statement Tuesday.
Barr made the slur in a tweet about Valerie Jarrett, an Obama adviser between 2009 and 2017. She said Jarrett looks as if the Muslim Brotherhood and “Planet of the Apes” “had a baby.” After an outcry, Barr said she was sorry and would stop posting on Twitter.
“I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans,” Barr tweeted on Tuesday. “I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me -- my joke was in bad taste.”
Barr, 65, has repeatedly used Twitter as a platform for her political views, including her distaste for the Clinton family. That has created headaches for Walt Disney Co.’s ABC.
“Roseanne” helped ABC climb out of the ratings cellar in the just-ended TV season, attracting an average of 18.7 million viewers a week. The series ranked as one of the most-watched shows since its debut in March, according to Nielsen data.
Following the Jarrett tweet, “Roseanne” consulting producer Wanda Sykes said she wouldn’t be returning to the show. Sykes is black, as is Jarrett. “Roseanne” co-star Sara Gilbert called Barr’s comment “abhorrent” and said they didn’t reflect the views of the show’s cast and crew.
The program, which features Barr playing a Donald Trump supporter, is a revival of her sitcom that debuted in the 1980s. It went off the air in 1997.
Under Dungey, the first African-American to lead entertainment programming at one of the big four broadcast networks, ABC had been trying to attract more men, along with lower-income and rural families in the wake of Trump’s election. The network already had shows such as “Black-ish,” about an upper-middle-class African-American family, and “Fresh off the Boat,” about Asian immigrants, that tackled the subject of race in America.
In the show “Roseanne,” the comedian often got in heated discussions with her on-screen sister, played by Laurie Metcalf, who held more liberal views.
Shares of the Burbank, California-based Disney fell as much as 2.8 percent to $99.38 in New York. It was down 4.9 percent this year through last week.
While a number of networks have canceled shows because of scandals involving their hosts, such as Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and PBS’s Charlie Rose, it’s rare for an entertainment program to suffer the same fate. CBS ended up returning “Two and a Half Men” to the air after Charlie Sheen left the show following disparaging things he said about the program.
Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger shared his view of the “Roseanne” cancellation on Twitter.
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