EXCLUSIVE: As Season 2 of The Conners winds down, ABC’s multi-camera comedy has taken a big step toward a third-season pickup.
I have learned that the four principal cast members of the Roseanne spinoff — Sara Gilbert (who also serves as an executive producer), John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and Lecy Goranson — have closed new deals to return next season. I hear the new pacts are for a 19-episode third season, in line with the size of the current second season.
Tom Werner’s Werner Entertainment, The Conners production company that handles cast negotiations, needs to close a license-fee deal with ABC next. I hear those conversations are underway.
Werner was cautiously optimistic about a renewal in January when talks with actors were just starting.
“We are very pleased with how the show is doing, and my hope is that — I’m confident that the network will pick up the show for another year, hopeful anyway,” he told Deadline. “My sense is that there is a lot of enthusiasm about what we are doing.”
At that time, ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke shared her enthusiasm over a couple of noisy special episodes The Conners was doing this season, including a live show on the night of the New Hampshire primary.
“They are just in a groove,” she told Deadline. “When I took this job, I was told, ‘Well, you probably have one season with The Conners.‘ I think because they have fun and the show does so well, they keep wanting to do more. We will do The Conners as long as they do more episodes.”
Because of the show’s origins — a spinoff of the Roseanne revival — The Conners cast does not have standard six-year contracts. Instead, the actors are signed year-to-year.
I hear Gilbert, Goodman and Metcalf all scored small bumps to their hefty reported Season 2 salaries of $375,000 an episode; Gorenson, whose paycheck was said to have gone up to $165,000 in Season 2 after a lower starting point, is believed to have landed a bigger increase for next season. All four also have a piece of the new series’ backend.
The Roseanne spinoff, shepherded by executive producer/showrunner Bruce Helford, was an instant breakout, ranking as last season’s No. 1 new comedy in total viewers and 18-49 and ABC’s No. 1 comedy in both categories. This season, The Conners remains ABC’s most watched comedy series, averaging 7.9 million viewers (most current).