With the shock of the swift and sudden cancellation by ABC of its highest-rated series Roseanne — after the series’ co-creator, star and executive producer Roseanne Barr’s racist tweets — finally starting to subside, a question emerges: What’s next?
I hear executive producers Tom Werner and Sara Gilbert, the main driving force behind the revival, are expected to meet with some of the series’ writers, led by executive producer/showrunner Bruce Helford, in a few days — after the raw emotions from the abrupt cancellation have cooled off — to kick around possible ideas for continuing the show without Barr.
The effort to save the show in some shape and form, led by Carsey-Werner, which owns and produces Roseanne, is understandable given the success of the revival and the money at stake. The independent production company already has all actors under contract for next season. The top-notch co-starring cast, led by John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and Gilbert, love working together and I hear they are potentially open to returning if the right creative idea is presented to them.
Still, there are a lot of hurdles, from coming up with a concept that will live up to the high creative bar set by the original series to changing the name of the show.
An informed source close to the situation said pulling off an offshoot series with the rest of the Roseanne cast is “possible but not probable.” Another source called it “a long shot.” If it comes together, Roseanne 2.0 would likely not be ready for fall. if it doesn’t, the focus will shift to who will get paid for the aborted Season 11. I hear there have been no conversations yet with the Roseanne cast, writers or crew about compensation but such talks should be forthcoming if the Hail Mary pass to salvage the show does not work.
I hear ABC is currently not involved in any discussions about a potential Roseanne spinoff without Barr but is expected to be pitched. Unlike the case of Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen, who was fired by series producer Warner Bros TV after his epic 2011 meltdown but the series was kept alive by CBS until a replacement was found, ABC didn’t just disassociate itself from Barr, it canceled her series. That makes for more complicated conversations should a potential offshoot overcome the first big hurdle — coming up with a concept that the producers and cast like.
The Roseanne writers could get outside help — The Mindy Project creator Mindy Kaling and Girls creator Lena Dunham both offered their services writing a potential spinoff.
And then there is Barr, whose shadow will be looming large in the background. After initially apologizing to Valerie Jarrett for the racist Planet of the Apes comparison, Barr has grown more defiant, re-tweeting up a storm of messages from supporters and indicating she may be ready a fight back.
Barr already attacked two of her Roseanne cast members, Michael Fishman and Gilbert, who had condemned her Jarrett tweets. She will likely continue to lob Twitter grenades should the show, which she co-created and headlined for 10 seasons, go on without her.