'Abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values': Celebrities react after Roseanne axed

ABC has cancelled the short-lived reboot of Roseanne after its star tweeted about Muslims, Jews and 'apes'

ABC has cancelled the short-lived reboot of Roseanne after its star tweeted about muslims, Jews and "apes"

Roseanne Barr, left, and John Goodman appear in a scene from the reboot of Roseanne, which has just been cancelled by ABC. (Adam Rose/ABC via Associated Press)

Hours after star Roseanne Barr posted a racist message on Twitter, ABC has axed the reboot of her hit comedy Roseanne.

"Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj," read the tweet, which was reportedly a remark about Valerie Jarrett, a former top adviser to president Barack Obama and an African-American. The tweet has since been removed.

In a later tweet, Barr called her earlier post "a joke," then apologized, saying "I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me — my joke was in bad taste." She then tweeted another apology and said she was leaving Twitter.

Earlier, Barr had also tweeted about billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros, calling him "a nazi who turned in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered in German concentration camps & stole their wealth."

The tweets generated a tidal wave of response, including from the cast and creators of the show.

Before the announcement of the cancellation, Roseanne consulting producer and famed writer and comedian Wanda Sykes vowed not to return to the show.

After the announcement, co-star Sara Gilbert wrote, "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."

She went on to tweet that the cast and crew were proud of the show, and that their opinions were "separate and apart from the opinions and words of one cast member." (In their replies, many pointed out that Barr is the central character of the show as well as its namesake, so can hardly be defined as "one cast member.")

The announcement sent ripples through the entire industry, with Robert Iger, chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Company, which owns ABC, quoting the official statement that called Barr's tweet "abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values."

"There was only one thing to do here," he added, "and that was the right thing."

Long before this controversy, many questioned the wisdom of airing a pro-Trump Roseanne reboot, especially during a time of heightened tensions in the U.S. Ava DuVernay — the Oscar-winning director of A Wrinkle in Time and Selma — made that sentiment clear in her tweet following the cancellation.

In it, she shares of a photo of ABC executive Channing Dungey, who announced the cancellation, and says she is "Sitting on top of your world like a Queen in full judgment of your garbage."

Prominent writer and civil rights activist Shaun King also questioned the wisdom of giving the outspoken star a platform in the first place. "It was widely known and meticulously documented that she was a flagrant bigot before @ABC & @Disney rolled out the red carpet for her anyway," he tweeted. "It's shameful."

Renowned producer Shonda Rhimes said the firing is in line with a key lesson she teaches her four-year-old: we are all responsible for our actions.

Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis simply expressed her gratitude.

Trump supporters, however, see the cancellation very differently, and argue that it amounts to a limit on free speech.

"I don't understand it to be anything other than free speech," said Fox host Harris Faulkner. "It is extremely offensive but it is just that. She says in one of her tweets, there were three rapid-fire today, where she said: 'It was a joke. It was a miscalculated joke.'"

The cancellation marks a significant move for ABC, since Roseanne was their number one sitcom, drawing 25 million viewers for the launch, and more than 10 million viewers per week by the end of the first season. Season two was in pre-production, but has been halted, and reruns have been pulled from the schedule. 

Tune in to CBC's q Wednesday morning when our film panel will discuss the cancellation with host Tom Power.

About the Author

Jennifer Van Evra

Jennifer Van Evra is a Vancouver-based journalist and digital producer for q. She can be found on Twitter @jvanevra or email jennifer.vanevra@cbc.ca.

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