Roseanne Barr’s son breaks silence: My mother is still not working, still not forgiven and I want to know why

Roseanne Barr’s son stepped forward this week and delivered an epic rant about what his mother has been through over the last year after her tweet about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett.

“I’ve watched her apologize time and time again and I guess I just got sick of her apologizing, and felt like somebody should say a few things about it other than her,” said Jake Pentland, Roseanne’s oldest son. “And that’s why I’m here. So, I don’t want to get into the tweet. It doesn’t matter to me. The point is, she made a mistake, and she apologized, and she should be forgiven, and she hasn’t been up until this point. It’s been a year. She’s still not working, still has not been hired back.”

Screenshot from YouTube video (warning: profanity).

On May 29, 2018, Roseanne had tweeted:  “Muslim Brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” referring to Jarrett.

That same day, ABC, which is owned by Disney, canceled her show and she lost her agent, her reputation, and all prospects of ever having a career again on American television.

Looking back, it’s almost unbelievable what happened, how it happened, and how fast it happened.

CNN reported at the time that even industry observers were surprised that the “Roseanne” reboot, which had just debuted two months before to great ratings, had been canceled so swiftly.

The cast of ABC’s ‘Roseanne’ reboot at the premiere on March 23, 2018 at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

“I just want to know why,” said Pentland in his rant. “I want to know…to people who are actively pushing and turning the screws on my mother — because I know some of you are watching, ‘cause I know some of you. You know, Michael Fishman I knew for 30 years of my life, and Sara [Gilbert], I knew all that cast. I knew them. I’ve had lunch with them. I’ve looked them in the eyes. We’ve been friends. And they took this opportunity to really dig my mother’s face in the dirt and I want to know why. I really want to know why.”

Michael Fishman played DJ, Roseanne’s young son on the original show that ran from 1988 to 1997, and a young man on the reboot, married and with a child of his own.

Actor Michael Fishman, ‘DJ,’ in 1991, above, and 2018, right. (Ron Galella, Ltd./David Livingston WireImage)

Sara Gilbert played Darlene, the tomboy daughter on the original show. She went on to work as a co-host on the CBS daytime show “The Talk” and was the one who originally contacted Barr about bringing the show back, with the old cast.

Sara Gilbert, ‘Darlene,’ in 1991, above, and on Feb. 19, 2019, right. (Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage/Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)

“I want to know why, if you’re so disgusted and disturbed by my horrible, racist mother, why are you continuing to make money off her?” asked Pentland. “If her legacy is so tarnished with racism, how can you justify going to work every day, Sara, and making money off the Conners? That’s her family. You’re playing her daughter, a horrible racist.”

Gilbert publicly admonished Barr, her TV mother, tweeting that Barr’s tweet about Jarrett was “abhorrent” and saying it doesn’t “reflect the beliefs” of the cast or crew or anyone tied to the show.

“She destroyed the show and my life with that tweet,” Barr said in March. “She will never get enough until she consumes my liver with a fine Chianti.”

Gilbert’s tweet had the effect of immediately isolating Barr from the show she created in the 1980s, a show that was based on Roseanne’s real life with her first husband, a postal worker, and their three children: Jake, Jennifer and Jessica.

1989: The cast of ‘Roseanne’ in 1989, the same year the show first aired on ABC.  (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

In October of 2018, five months after “Roseanne” was canceled, ABC debuted a new show called “The Conners,” which included all of the same characters except Roseanne, who had been killed off by the writers (the character died of an accidental opioid overdose).

Pentland challenged Gilbert in particular, saying if she had any “scruples or morals” she would walk away from “The Conners.”

“Maybe you don’t really think it was racist,” he said. “Because it wasn’t. Maybe you have a shred of logic and sanity in your head where you’re like, ‘Ok, it wasn’t that bad. And that’s how we’re going to continue to do the show.’ But you know you can’t say that, because then you can’t justify the fact that you fired my mother. So you’re caught in a pickle.”

Gilbert had presumably cooperated in “firing” Barr in a sense because she was an executive producer of the show, along with Barr. But it wasn’t technically a firing.

ABC had presented Roseanne with a deal, said Pentland. If she signed an agreement to walk away from the show and give up her rights to the show, they’d give her an opportunity to go on other shows on their network and apologize and explain the tweet.

But she never got that chance, and was relegated to using her YouTube channel to explain herself. She was never invited on “The View” or any other ABC show. The interview she did with Sean Hannity was one of her only appearances on a major cable channel or network following the Jarrett tweet. It aired on Fox News in July of 2018.

Screenshot from Fox News interview with Sean Hannity.

In that interview, Barr told Sean Hannity that at the time of the tweet, she didn’t know Jarrett was black, and said when ABC called her asking “what possible excuse” she could have for the “unforgivable and egregious tweet,” she was dumbfounded.

“I said, ‘What do you mean exactly?’”

“You could have knocked me over with a feather,” she told Sean. “My boyfriend saw it. I was like, ‘What? I thought she was Middle Eastern.'” (Jarrett was born in Iran, but her parents are both African-Americans.)

Pentland also compared how his mother was treated to how another Hollywood celebrity was treated after his offensive tweets.

That celebrity is a man named James Gunn, a Hollywood filmmaker best known as the writer and director of the Marvel Studios-Disney films “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”

To say his tweets were way worse is an understatement. Roseanne had made a joke: Gunn’s tweets seem to describe and celebrate sex with young boys.

Pentland read four of Gunn’s tweets that were unearthed after the Roseanne debacle, starting with: “I like it when little boys touch me in my silly place.” The second tweet is too vulgar and disturbing to quote. In the third tweet, Gunn talks of his memory of attending his first meeting of NAMBLA, the North American Man Boy Love Association, a pro-pedophile group. The fourth tweet is a joke about making a pornographic adaptation of the classic children’s book “The Giving Tree.”

A March 15, 2019 story from The Hollywood Reporter (Getty Images)

“These are just the ones you could find,” said Pentland, noting that Gunn deleted some 10,000 tweets after conservative blogger and author Mike Cernovich found the above tweets and shared them with the world on Twitter.

“But again, my mother was fired, had her show stolen, was labeled a racist for one tweet,” said Pentland. “There are a multitude of child molestation jokes by James Gunn, and he’s back at Disney. Right now. He had an 11-month vacation, essentially. He’s back. And, it’s confusing. It’s very confusing for me even if it’s not my mother I’m talking about. Just objectively. As a fan, or just as a normal person looking at the situation. Why is there an obvious double standard here? Why is she not getting the same treatment as James Gunn? And it’s not just James Gunn. I’m not going to get in to all the tweets that other celebrities have said, but she’s not the first celebrity to tweet something that got her in hot water. It happens almost every day. And people have said way worse s*** than her one tweet, and they, you know, at worst, maybe just apologizes and it ended. It’s been a year. She’s apologized non-stop for a year, and she’s still not back.”

What Pentland doesn’t mention is that what’s different about his mother is that she is a vocal supporter of Donald Trump, and even in promoting the “Roseanne” revival, had talked openly about her support for Trump, and her swing to the right since running for president in 2012 on the Green Party ticket.

After the revival’s first episode, Trump had called Barr to congratulate her. Barr told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the call was “pretty exciting.”

On the show, Barr and her co-star John Goodman played the Trump-supporting couple, Roseanne and Dan Conner.

The original show, which aired for nine seasons, had launched the movie career of Goodman, who went on to act in cult classics like “The Big Lebowski” (1998) and “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000) and also launched the career of George Clooney, who on “Roseanne” had played Booker, a hapless, womanizing factory supervisor who sometimes dated Roseanne’s sister, Jackie.

According to industry sources, the popular success of the original “Roseanne” also prompted television executives to take a chance on shows headed by other comedians, including Jerry Seinfeld.

But like so many in Hollywood, Seinfeld turned on Roseanne after the Jarrett tweet, asking why Disney and ABC would fire someone who’s already committing suicide.

“I never saw someone ruin their entire career with one button push. That was fresh,” he commented glibly to USA Today in June of 2018, a month after Roseanne’s downfall.

“I don’t know what it is,” said Pentland. “And I really want to know. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’ve asked my mother if I could take a few minutes on her page. I don’t want to explain the tweet, I don’t want to apologize on her behalf. She’s apologized nonstop for a year. There’s no more need for it. I just want to know why. I want to know why they are actively, actively trying to ruin my mother, at an unprecedented level of anybody in this town has ever faced. There are people who have sexual assaults on their records who are forgiven in this town. There’s only one person that wasn’t forgiven, and that’s my mother. If you want to say that one weird tweet in the middle of the night that was taken purposely out of context is justification for stealing this woman’s life, work, her art, a show that she created based on her life. Her friends turned their backs on her. They didn’t just turn their backs. They spun around one more time and stabbed her in hers. And if you think this punishment is justified, then you scare the hell out of me. I don’t understand. I don’t understand what it is. I just want to know why. I want to know why everybody else in this town including James Gunn is forgiven. Why not her?”


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