We’re well into the month of June and any networks that plan on having a show on this fall’s primetime lineup probably need to have them at least in the studio and shooting some episodes by now. When it comes to ABC, the big question remains whether or not there’s anything left to salvage of the Roseanne reboot. For better or worse, it looks like Roseanne Barr won’t be on the screen if it happens. She’s also volunteered to give up her financial interest in the brand to ensure that the crew and the rest of the cast don’t all lose their jobs.
But what does a Roseanneless Roseanne show look like? It was already hinted at previously, but it sounds like they’re still focusing on the idea of centering a show around the character of her daughter, played by Sara Gilbert. (Hollywood Reporter)
ABC and producer Carsey-Werner are insisting that Barr not participate financially or creatively in the proposed spinoff, which is said to revolve around the character played by Sara Gilbert. Other Roseanne writer-producers and cast members, including John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf, are said to be tentatively on board (they would receive the same fees as previously negotiated for the second season of the Roseanne revival, which was ABC’s top-rated program this season).
But since Barr would be entitled to substantial fees and backend on any spin-off of Roseanne (the original series was created by Matt Williams but it is also credited as being “based upon a character created by Barr”), she must waive those rights before any such show could proceed. With Roseanne having tentatively agreed to do so, now the negotiation is over what, if any, one-time payment Barr should receive as “go-away money,” as one source puts it.
ABC and Carsey-Werner declined to comment, and sources caution that the precarious nature of the negotiations and Barr’s volatile disposition could change the situation before a deal is closed. Even if Barr signs off on the spinoff, ABC would still need to pick it up officially, though that is highly likely given the tune-in for Roseanne this season.
There are a couple of assumptions in this article regarding ABC’s motivations and options which may not add up. First of all, I’ll grant you that when a network suddenly loses their highest rated show, a certain amount of desperation probably kicks in. They want to get that ratings rush back as quickly as possible. But are the same number of people going to watch the next season if it doesn’t have Roseanne Barr in it? She was the draw which drove those numbers for a variety of reasons including the nostalgia out there for the original series and her frequently controversial behavior. Perhaps even more than all that was the fact that she was billed as being the voice of the other 90% of the nation (outside the coastal liberal enclaves) which Hollywood tends to at least ignore when they’re not busy ridiculing them.
Just because the new show would feature many of the same characters from Roseanne Conner’s family, will those folks be primed to watch a show based on Sara Gilbert’s character and her dubiously gendered son? Whether you’re talking about the actress in real life or her character on the show, she’s pretty much the epitome of the radical, humorless, leftist scold we see on nearly every other show, only put on steroids. Without the counterweight of Roseanne’s earthy, in your face responses to her, what’s the point? ABC could be betting some big salaries on a show which may fizzle after the first couple of weeks go by and the previous audience’s fascination with the pending trainwreck wears off.
Not that they could have entirely seen this coming, but I think ABC missed the mark by going with the wrong Sara. The character of Becky as an adult was less well fleshed out and had a lot more room for development. But they should have gone with Sarah Chalke (the “second Becky” from the original series) and built something from there. Sadly, they already let that ship sail when they brought back the original Becky and morphed Chalke into some outsider looking for a surrogate mother.
Finally, how much “go away money” do they plan on giving Barr to simply go away? And given her rather adversarial personality and unpredictability, will she really be able to truly go away? Color me skeptical. Yes, the first season of the reboot was a high point in a usually dismal field of network television offerings. But this plan is starting to sound like ABC is setting themselves up for some failure that will make Miss Sloane look like a smash hit.