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ABC cancels ‘Roseanne’ after racist tweet

May 31,2018
NEW YORK - ABC canceled its hit reboot of “Roseanne” on Tuesday following star Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet that referred to former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett as a product of the Muslim Brotherhood and the “Planet of the Apes.”

The president of ABC Entertainment, Channing Dungey, said the comment “is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.” Barr apologized and deleted her Monday-night tweet, calling it a “bad joke,” but the damage had already been done.’

Late Tuesday, Barr tweeted a second apology to the writers and co-stars of the show and urging people not to feel sorry for her.

She also retweeted a meme that juxtaposed shots of President Donald Trump next to orangutans, and an image of Jarrett next to a picture of a “Planet of the Apes” actress.

The defiant tweetstorm capped a day that saw Barr resoundingly criticized by fellow actors, cast mates and others, and abandoned by several companies, including her talent agency, ICM Partners.

The revival of the comedy was a surprise smash for ABC, owned by Walt Disney, and was counted on to lead the network’s fortunes next season. Its first new episode in March was seen by more than 25 million people, with delayed viewing counted in, numbers that are increasingly rare in network television. ABC expected advertisers to pay millions of dollars for the chance to be seen during commercial breaks on television’s most popular comedy after “The Big Bang Theory.”

It was all killed in a 53-character tweet.

One of the few network shows about a working-class family, “Roseanne” attracted considerable attention upon its return when Barr’s character supported Trump. That made the show popular with conservative viewers, and Trump himself suggested the character’s backing had a lot to do with the show’s success.

Barr herself has a history of diving into political conspiracy theories on her Twitter feed, and she ended her Memorial Day weekend with a series of statements. She criticized Democratic financier George Soros and tweeted that Chelsea Clinton was “Chelsea Soros Clinton,” implying she was married to a nephew of Soros. Clinton herself corrected Barr online. Donald Trump Jr. retweeted two of Barr’s statements about Soros, although not the remark about Jarrett.

Jarrett, who is black, was brought up in response to Twitter commentary that raised her name in relation to an Obama conspiracy theory. Barr tweeted: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”

She later tweeted an apology to Jarrett. “Forgive me,” she wrote. “My joke was in bad taste.”

Jarrett, who appeared at the taping of an MSNBC show about racism on Tuesday, said she hoped the incident could be turned into a teaching moment.

“I’m fine,” she said. “I’m worried about the people out there who don’t have a circle of friends and followers who come right to their defense.”

Barr was quickly condemned. Comic Wanda Sykes, a “Roseanne” writer, tweeted that she wouldn’t be returning to the show. Sara Gilbert, a co-star, also tweeted that the remark was abhorrent.

It was a quick decision at ABC for Dungey, who is the first African-American to serve as programming chief for one of the major broadcast networks, and her boss Ben Sherwood, the network’s president. Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger tweeted his approval: “There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing.”

AP