Disney/ABC’s Ben Sherwood on ‘Roseanne’ Demise: ‘It Came Down to Doing What’s Right’

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As the dust settles on the “Roseanne” imbroglio, Disney/ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood reinforced the network’s view that cancellation was the only option in the face of a blatantly racist tweet sent by star Roseanne Barr.

In a memo to ABC staffers titled “Our Values,” Sherwood expressed regret for the “Roseanne” cast and crew members who were shocked on Tuesday to lose their jobs as a result of the fast-moving storm stirred by Barr’s late-night social media activity. Sherwood oversees most of Disney/ABC’s TV operations, aside from ESPN, and is the direct boss of ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey.

Sherwood’s note comes amid rumblings that key players including executive producer and star Sara Gilbert and showrunner Bruce Helford are trying to salvage the show without its titular star. Production on the reboot’s second season was scheduled to begin Tuesday on the CBS Studio Center lot in Studio City.

Sources close to the situation that those involved in the show are still “shell-shocked” by the news of its cancellation. Discussions about moving forward without Barr were not likely to take place for another few days as cast and crew members absorbed the news. Co-star John Goodman would be crucial to any such plan, and the actor was said to be out of pocket on vacation with his family this week and has not been in contact with other key players from the show.

Here’s Sherwood’s memo in full:


Much has been said and written about yesterday’s decision to cancel the Roseanne show. In the end, it came down to doing what’s right and upholding our values of inclusion, tolerance, and civility.

Not enough, however, has been said about the many men and women who poured their hearts and lives into the show and were just getting started on next season. We’re so sorry they were swept up in all of this and we give thanks for their remarkable talents, wish them well, and hope to find another way to work together down the road.

The last 24 hours have also been a powerful reminder of the importance of words in everything we do – online and on the air. And the responsibility of using social media – and all of our programs and platforms – with careful thought, decency and consideration.

Today we move forward, together, full speed.