Although the 66-year-old comedian still believes ABC had it out for her before she sent that racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, Barr is adding a new cohort to the mix as to why the series was axed. In an interview with the Washington Post, Barr says it was co-star Sara Gilbert’s reaction that “destroyed” the show — and her life.
After Barr’s Jarrett tweet, where she compared the former Obama aide to a Planet of the Apes character, Gilbert quickly condemned the comment, calling it “abhorrent” and saying it does “not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show.”
Roseanne’s recent comments about Valerie Jarrett, and so much more, are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show. I am disappointed in her actions to say the least.
— sara gilbert (@THEsaragilbert) May 29, 2018
This is incredibly sad and difficult for all of us, as we’ve created a show that we believe in, are proud of, and that audiences love— one that is separate and apart from the opinions and words of one cast member.
— sara gilbert (@THEsaragilbert) May 29, 2018
“She destroyed the show and my life with that tweet,” Barr now exclaims. “She will never get enough until she consumes my liver with a fine Chianti.”
In response, Gilbert tells the Post that “while I’m extremely disappointed and heartbroken over the dissolution of the original show, she will always be family, and I will always love Roseanne.”
The article examines the behind-the-scenes tug of war over Barr’s behavior on social media, which started nearly a year before that Valerie Jarrett message was ever sent.
“I knew that Roseanne, the person, was unpredictable at times, but she told me this was her redemption,” Gilbert reflects. “I chose to believe her.”
Adds Whitney Cummings, an executive producer on the reboot: “I had not gone through the years of past tweets, and that was my mistake.”
“Her tweets, before the one that got her in trouble, were absolute nonsense,” Doug Stanhope, a comedian and friend of Barr’s who appeared on the reboot, notes. “Zionist things, a Palestinian thing, none of it made sense. The idea that a network would give her a show … they had to know what they were getting into.”
According to the Post, Barr’s tweets caused tension within the show’s production team almost immediately — like in August 2017, when she defended President Trump’s handling of Charlottesville and attacked the antifa movement. Gilbert called the show’s executive producer, Tom Werner, and James Moore, Barr’s longtime publicist, to set up a call.
“I don’t want to talk about it — it will be gone,” Barr emailed Moore, before deleting the tweet.
According to the article, “The network didn’t propose a no-tweet clause in Barr’s contract. Instead, as revealed by interviews with people close to the show and messages shown to The Washington Post, they spent months nudging her to stop while also trying to keep from offending her.”
“It was always this back and forth of ABC not wanting to appear they were censoring Roseanne but also not quite pulling out the big guns,” Moore says. “Going, ‘You’re one tweet away from us canceling the show.’ Something that would jar Roseanne.”
“I admit it,” she tells the Post. “I’m a troll. I’m the queen of the f***ing trolls.”
In the fall of 2017, Gilbert and Werner set up a meeting with Barr and PR powerhouse Kelly Bush Novak, whom they had hired to represent the show. Novak was concerned about a storyline in one of the episodes involving the grandson’s curiosity about girls’ clothes and whether there were any old tweets from Barr that members of the LGBTQ community would find upsetting. Novak apparently hired GLAAD to prepare a report called “Roseanne Barr’s Anti-Trans” record. An example from the 27-page document was, “Tweeted story that Obamas killed Joan Rivers for saying Michelle Obama is a tranny.”
“I said, ‘I’ve already apologized,’” Barr says, recalling the meeting with Novak. “And I did. Over days on Twitter. You know I understand that there’s a real serious issue with trans lives and trans rights for trans people. They want to be safe. But you know we tell our little girls to watch out for penises basically to stay safe. So what a mixed message this is. And I think it really needs more analysis and a lot more conversation, and I said that 400 f***ing times.”
Barr eventually got off Twitter, but only because her 23-year-old son, Buck Thomas, reset her password without her knowledge. “I didn’t want her to get in trouble before the show even started,” he recounts.
Eventually Thomas turned over the password, and one month later Barr questioned whether the Parkland shooting survivors were child actors. Co-showrunner and executive producer Bruce Helford texted her and told her to take down the tweets before ABC noticed.
“I’m really sorry to ever ask you to hold your voice,” he wrote, “but I think there are even more powerful ways to put ideas out there through the show itself, which I hope we have the opportunity to do many, many more episodes of together.”
That abruptly ended in May 2018. After her 53-character tweet about Jarrett made headlines, ABC held an emergency call with Barr, Werner and Disney/ABC Television Group President Ben Sherwood. When asked why she would tweet that, Barr replied, “I’m a comedian. We step in s**t all the time. I already took it down. What else can I do?”
This time, the network had had enough. Although it’s been 10 months since everything went down, it’s clearly something Barr isn’t over, as she’s infuriated over the settlement she struck with ABC so the network could launch its spinoff, The Conners. (It was revealed in the series premiere that Barr’s character died of an opioid overdose.)
And while Barr has nothing to lose at the moment, her kids are still trying their best to keep her off Twitter. Two of her daughters each have part of her password so Barr can’t bully one of them into handing it over. But the comedian has found other ways to make waves.
In a February YouTube video, Barr called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “Farrakhan-loving … bug-eyed bitch.” Earlier this month she went on Candace Owens’s podcast, where she called creators of the #MeToo movement “hos.” She’s asked by the Post if there’s a part of her that ever considers quieting down.
“I can’t,” she says in a text message. “Do I look like the kind of woman who obeys?”
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