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‘Roseanne’ TV show abruptly canceled after star’s racist tweet sparked fury

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Walt Disney Co’s ABC Network promptly canceled popular American television comedy “Roseanne” on Tuesday after star Roseanne Barr sparked outrage by comparing a former black Obama administration official to a monkey in remarks on Twitter.

The show, a cover of the 1990s hit “Roseanne,” was ABC’s most-viewed prime-time TV show for the TV season that ended last week. President Donald Trump has cited his huge audience as proof that his supporters, including Barr, want shows that address their concerns.

“Roseanne’s statement on Twitter is heinous, disgusting and incompatible with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” ABC Entertainment chairman Channing Dungey said in a statement.

In a comment since deleted on Twitter, Barr compared Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, to a monkey. Barr wrote that if the Islamist political movement “the Muslim brotherhood and the planet of the apes had a baby = vj”.

The actress, 65, apologized for “making a bad joke” about Jarrett, who is black and was born in Iran to American parents. Barr’s tweet followed a conversation on Twitter referring to a Wikileaks claim that the CIA spied on French presidential candidates during the Obama administration.

“Don’t feel sorry for me guys !!” Barr said in a tweet Tuesday night. “I just want to apologize to the hundreds of people, and the wonderful writers (all Liberals) and talented actors who lost their jobs on my show and applied New Mexico Bankruptcy  because of my stupid tweet.”

Jarrett, 61, said Tuesday that Disney chief executive Bob Iger called her before ABC announced the show’s cancellation.

“I think we need to make this a teaching moment,” Jarrett said during a recording of an MSNBC town hall event titled “Everyday Racism in America” ​​that the network released ahead of its scheduled broadcast. . “I’m fine. I’m worried about all the people who don’t have a circle of friends and followers who come to their defense.

RE-BROADCASTS ALSO TAKEN

Hollywood talent agency ICM said in a statement Tuesday that it would no longer represent Barr.

The fallout from the show’s cancellation also hit its lucrative syndication market, as Viacom said it would be removing reruns of the 1990s “Roseanne” episodes from its Paramount, TV Land and CMT cable networks. Another cable network, Laff, has also said it is cutting reruns of the show.

Hulu has said the new show “Roseanne” will no longer be available on its streaming service.

The original “Roseanne” ran from 1988 to 1997, starring a blue-collar family, the Conners, with overweight parents struggling to cope. He was praised for his realistic portrayal of working class life.

The current “Roseanne” was ABC’s biggest hit of the 2017-18 season, averaging 18.7 million viewers, just behind CBS sitcom “The Big Bang Theory,” according to Nielsen data. until May 20.

ABC aired nine episodes of “Roseanne” from March through May and generated $ 22.8 million in advertising revenue, or 2.5% of the network’s total for the season, according to iSpot data. At the end of March, the network renewed the show for another season.

Disney shares, which had a disappointing start for the latest “Star Wars” movie, closed down 2.46% to $ 99.69 on the New York Stock Exchange. The markets are generally down sharply due to fears of political instability in Italy.

Disney’s Iger added on Twitter: “There was only one thing to do here, and it was the right thing.”

FILE PHOTO: Actress Roseanne Barr greets her arrival at the 75th Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California, U.S. Jan. 7, 2018. REUTERS / Mario Anzuoni / File Photo

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders asked if Trump thought the show should have been canceled, told reporters traveling with the president in Nashville, Tennessee: “That’s not what the president is planning. This is not what he spends his time on. I think we have much bigger things going on in the country right now. “

CAST COMMENT

Anger among the show’s supporting cast has added to the pressure on ABC. Sara Gilbert, who plays her daughter Darlene, on Twitter called Barr’s comments “heinous.”

Emma Kenney, who plays Gilbert’s onscreen daughter Harris, said she decided to quit the show because of Barr’s words even before ABC canceled the show. “As I called my manager to stop working on Roseanne, I found out the show had been canceled,” Kenney wrote on Twitter.

Emmy-winning comedian and “Roseanne” consulting producer Wanda Sykes was the first personality associated with the show to break the ranks, resigning hours after Barr’s comments.

Tuesday’s fury echoed a 2013 incident in which Barr, in a subsequently deleted tweet, said that former black Obama administration official Susan Rice “is a man with big balls of swaying monkey “.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine and Eric Kelsey; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Cynthia Osterman

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