Network execs reportedly regret ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to fire Roseanne, fear spin-off will crash and burn

All too late, ABC executives fear they may have made a mistake in firing Roseanne Barr and cancelling the hit series revival of “Roseanne.”

And to make matters worse, two senior network executives told Daily Mail that ABC is bracing for the reaction of viewers to next week’s debut of the spin-off without Barr, “The Conners,” fearing backlash from longtime fans of Barr.

(Image: screenshot)

The executives regretted the decision by ABC President Channing Dungey to immediately cancel the wildely successfully rebooted “Roseanne” and to fire its star after she tweeted a controversial remark about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett which some claimed was racist – a charge Barr has vehemently denied.

“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 network insider said, according to Daily Mail. “This would have given them more time to listen to the public, advertisers and cast members to determine the best decision.”

Dungey condemned Barr’s comparison of Jarrett to if the ‘Muslim brotherhood & Planet of the Apes had a baby,” as “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”

But the ABC insiders feel the network should have taken a different approach.

“They could’ve suspended her from the first few episodes without pay and had her return later on in the season,” the source 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 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 added. “Why not have her front a PSA for the network on racism and cyberbullying?”

Conservative actor James Woods agreed that the business decision to fire Barr was not a good one.

Barr, who has been the target of liberal backlash for her support of President Donald Trump,  revealed last month that the spin-off without her is planning to have her character, mother and grandmother Roseanne Conner, die of an opioid overdose.

But fans’ loyalty to Barr has the network on edge as another insider told Daily Mail.

“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.”

There are reportedly fears at the network that the spin-off may attract less than a quarter of the “Roseanne” viewership, meaning Dungey would have “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,” the sources said. “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.”

‘What we’re expecting is for there to be some tune in so fans can actually learn how Roseanne departs,” the source added, “but from there the worry is the ratings will freefall.”

There was a collective eyeroll on Twitter with reports that ABC executives were wondering if they acted unwisely.

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