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ABC cancels 'Roseanne' after Roseanne Barr's offensive tweet

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Posted Tuesday, May 29, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

ABC today abruptly canceled "Roseanne" after Roseanne Barr's Tweet Tuesday comparing former Pres. Barack Obama's advisor Valerie Jarrett to an ape.

Although Barr apologized today on her social media, saying it was a "bad joke," Channing Dungey, ABC Entertainment President, released this statement: "Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show."

The network immediately pulled repeats of the show, including tonight. A repeat of "The Middle" will cover for it. (It airs locally in Atlanta on Channel 2 WSB-TV.) ABC/Disney pulled on-demand episodes from Hulu and its website.

Dungey is the network’s first African-American female leader.

Hours earlier, Wanda Sykes, who is co headlining a show at the Fox Theatre June 20, quit  "Roseanne" as a consulting producer in a huff after the Tweet, according to TMZ. 

A source close to Sykes told TMZ that Sykes was angry over Barr's Tweet Monday comparing Jarrett to the offspring of "Muslim Brotherhood & Planet of the Apes." Donald Trump has been peddling a debunked right-wing conspiracy involving Obama in some sort deal where they had implanted a spy in his campaign and Jarrett's name got thrown in the mix, leading to Barr's commentary. Conspirational types have called her a secret Muslim from Africa, similar to false accusations thrown at Obama.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 07: Honoree Wanda Sykes at Point Honors Los Angeles 2017, benefiting Point Foundation, at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 7, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Point Honors)

Barr - an avowed Donald Trump supporter - apologized, calling it a "bad joke." But for Sykes, that was too much. And for ABC executives, it was too late.

Later in the day her agency ICM dropped her as a client.

Jarrett, coincidentally on a panel about every-day racism on MSNBC that aired at 9 p.m. Tuesday night, said Disney CEO Bob Iger gave her a head's up about the show's cancellation and personally apologized, noting he would not tolerate Barr's comments. “I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment,” she said.

"Roseanne" was a surprise hit returning to ABC earler this year after two decades and was quickly renewed. Ratings were so big, Trump even called her to congratulate her personally. It had averaged about 18 million viewers per show, only between NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” and “This is Us.”

Fox noted that the success of "Roseanne" gave them the impetus to bring back "Last Man Standing" next season. That show aired several seasons on ABC starring Tim Allen as a conservative blue-collar man.

Then Barr posted the Jarrett tweet Tuesday morning. She had also been spreading far-right conspiracy theories regarding the Clintons and liberal activist George Soros . She even jokingly likened Chelsea Clinton to being tied to Soros so much that they are related.

Donald Trump Jr. re-tweeted a couple of her Tweets.

ROSEANNE BARR, LAURIE METCALF, JOHN GOODMAN

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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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