Two senior executives at ABC said Thursday that they believe firing actress and comedian Roseanne Barr for a controversial tweet was rushed and feel a suspension would have been more appropriate.
“We didn’t think it through properly. What Roseanne did was wrong but we shouldn’t have rushed to fire her,” one source told the Daily Mail. “It was almost a knee-jerk reaction by Ben [Sherwood] and Channing [Dungey] who should have launched an investigation.”
The executive said that an investigation would have given Sherwood, the president of Disney-ABC Television Group, Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment Group, the public, advertisers, and cast members of “Roseanne” more time to determine a calculated decision on what to do with Barr and the show.
ABC canceled “Roseanne” and fired Barr hours after she sent a tweet that was perceived as racist. In the tweet, Barr said former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett looked like a mixture between the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes.
“They could’ve suspended her from the first few episodes without pay and had her return later on in the season,” one of the insiders said. “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 Roseanne reboot broke viewership records week after week, which many attributed to the multiple political identities represented in the show. Barr portrayed a Trump supporter, a rarity on most present-day sitcoms.
“The Conners,” a spinoff of Roseanne that does not include the main character, is set to premiere on ABC Tuesday and will determine if the show can survive without the main star.
Senior executives at ABC indicate that viewers are upset over the firing of Barr and fear that the show will flop due to fan loyalty to Barr.
“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,” a source said, adding that no matter what promotional material is released, it is met with Roseanne fans protests that they will not watch the show.