It’s been almost three weeks since ABC’s abrupt cancellation of its flagship comedy series Roseanne following a controversial tweet by star and executive producer Roseanne Barr. And while there is still no official decision on a potential spinoff series, a lot of leg work has been done behind the scenes.
I hear Barr is expected to sign an agreement that would remove her from the potential spinoff and prevent her from suing over it. Terms of the agreements are unclear but it may involve a one-time payment from production company Carsey-Werner to Barr in exchange of her relinquishing any rights so she won’t be entitled to any profits from the spinoff.
Because of the circumstances under which ABC canceled the Roseanne revival, the network’s executives have been adamant that they would only proceed with a spinoff series if Barr has absolutely no involvement — creative, financial or any other.
I hear, barring any last-minute change of mind by Barr — which would not be completely out of character — her agreement is expected to be signed soon. I hear ABC has seven days after that to make a decision on a pickup.
With its conditions of no Barr involvement in the new series met, I hear ABC is likely to proceed with the spinoff. The network and the producers already had been brainstorming titles with several contenders in play. While Darlene was a moniker that had been circulated early on when rumors first surfaced about a possible new series centered on the character played by co-star/executive producer Sara Gilbert, I hear another name that is under consideration is The Conners, which would keep the strong ties to the original series without any Roseanne references while also underscoring the show’s family and ensemble nature.
As this is considered a new series, I hear the cast and the writers all have closed or are in final stages of negotiations on new contracts for the proposed spinoff to replace the deals they had in place for Season 2 of the revival. That doesn’t necessarily mean different terms; I hear the established stars of the show will likely remain at the previously renegotiated salaries for next season, reported to be around $300,000 an episode, though I hear the new pacts are for one year vs. the previous two-year length. I hear there have been some pay increases for the writing staff that are coming back.
This all is part of an intricate business translation which involves calculating the cost of ABC’s cancellation of Roseanne and the price of a possible spinoff and rolling one into the other. It is being handled by Carsey-Werner, which recently ramped up operations as it had not served as a studio on a series in more than a decade, since the end of That ’70s Show.
In anticipation of a pickup for the spinoff, ABC continues to hold off on announcing a replacement for Roseanne on its fall schedule.
In another positive sign, Barr who, at times has been combative on Twitter in the weeks after the Roseanne cancellation, has adopted a mostly conciliatory tone in the last day or so. This is what she tweeted earlier today: