It has been just over two months since ABC swiftly cancelled the Roseanne revival before going ahead with a spinoff, The Conners, without Roseanne Barr and for the first time, ABC’s top executive Channing Dungey opened up about the decision and revealed it was an easy one to make.
During interviews with multiple outlets at the Television Critics Association Press Tour on Tuesday, August 7, Dungey opened up about how quickly she pulled the plug on Roseanne after Barr’s racist tweet, and said, “it wasn’t that difficult,” because “it felt like a line had been crossed and we needed to stand by our values as a company.”
“It’s not a secret that she has had a tendency in the past to be sort of outspoken and go off-book,” Dungey explained. “We’ve had multiple conversations about wanting to keep the focus on the show and not to let some of the other stuff eclipse the show. So, in some ways, this was a last straw. But it was also such an egregious tweet that it felt like no matter what, there would have been some action that we would have taken.”
While talking to Deadline she further commented on the situation saying, “[The decision] was actually made very swiftly, and what I’m going to have to say is that it was nice that it was so clear to everyone that there wasn’t a lot of debate and discussion about it. We knew what we wanted to do, and we did it. For us, we have had multiple instances with Roseanne, and certainly this tweet crossed the line that cannot be crossed, but it was for us a sense of enough is enough and something had to be done.”
Although the tweet, Roseanne‘s cancellation, and news of the spinoff moving ahead without Barr has caused endless controversy and discussion, Dungey said one of the things that was so “disappointing” about the cancellation was thinking about what would happen to the cast and crew. With that in mind, Dungey was quick to greenlit The Conners spinoff.
“What I’m so thrilled about is that we were able to bring the whole cast back and most of the crew to work on The Conners, so that feels like a real victory,” Dungey explained. “Literally the next day I was on the phone with [executive producer] Tom Werner, and he was asking whether we would be open to the idea, and about a week later, I was on the phone with Tom and [fellow executive producers] Bruce Helford and Sara Gilbert, talking about the general shape of what they might want to try to do, and we had a real conversation in another week or two after they had time to break it out. But it was one of those ideas that they came in with [a clear intention to make it work]. I was very excited about the idea of keeping people working, and I also thought there were more stories in that universe in Lanford for us to tell.”
“What I can tell you is that, thematically, we will be focusing on a lot of the same themes that we were in the first nine episodes — what it’s like today for a family to make ends meet in a world where they might be going into foreclosure, where work is scarce, where there are a lot of different challenges in terms of raising children as a single parent,” she continued. “All these issues are going to still be at the forefront.”
The Conners is set to begin production at the end of August and is slated for an October 16, 2018 premiere date.