×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Roseanne’ Cancellation Leaves Huge Crater in ABC’s Fall Schedule

The abrupt cancellation of “Roseanne” will have a massive impact on ABC’s plans for the fall.

At its upfront presentation to advertisers two weeks ago, ABC unveiled a fall schedule that boasted “Roseanne” leading off the Tuesday-night primetime lineup. The revived multi-camera sitcom had just secured its place as the 2017-18 season’s No. 1 scripted show in Nielsen’s 18-49 demo. Heading into the upfront, ABC had positioned the show as the long-sought answer to the network’s Tuesday-night woes and the new face of its comedy brand.

On Tuesday, ABC canceled “Roseanne” just hours after star Roseanne Barr published a racist Tweet about former Obama-administration White House aide Valerie Jarrett.

Tuesdays had for years vexed ABC, with each season bringing a new strategy for reviving the network’s fortunes on the night. In 2013-14, ABC made the unorthodox move of putting freshman Marvel drama “Agents of SHIELD” on at 8 p.m., where comedies had typically dwelled. Two seasons later, another Disney-owned franchise, “The Muppets,” was given a shot at 8 p.m. Last season, “Black-ish” was relocated to 9 p.m. Tuesdays, where the network hoped it would anchor the primetime block much as “Modern Family” had for years on Wednesday nights.

None of those moves mattered, and ABC continued to flounder on Tuesdays. But “Roseanne” promised a solution. At 8 p.m., it would go head-to-head with “The Voice” on NBC and “NCIS” on CBS and provide formidable competition to both — even with a likely ratings decline in the upcoming season. The decision to schedule new single-camera comedy “The Kids Are Alright” at 8:30 p.m. was a risk, but one with potential payoff if the freshman series proved able to hold a significant chunk of the “Roseanne” audience and establish itself. “Black-ish” and “Splitting Up Together,” scheduled for 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., respectively, had already proven themselves able schedule partners to “Roseanne.”

At 10 p.m., ABC execs had high hopes for “The Rookie,” a freshman drama starring Nathan Fillion as a middle-aged man who joins the Los Angeles Police Department. The morning of the upfront, ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey told reporters that “The Rookie” would appeal to “the broad base of viewers that we start off the night with” — a reference to the outsize ratings earned by “Roseanne,” which played particularly well in Midwestern states — and acknowledged that 10 p.m. Tuesdays “has been a challenging time period in the past.”

Without “Roseanne,” ABC’s options for saving Tuesday night are limited. The network could, conceivably, make a bold move such as tearing “Modern Family” from its longtime Wednesday perch and placing it in the Tuesday lead-off spot. But doing so would hobble the survival chances of freshman comedy “Single Parents” at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and freshman drama “A Million Little Things” at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Tinkering with Wednesday risks undermining a night in which ABC is fairly well positioned, at least until 10 p.m. But one possible move would be to dispatch season three of “American Housewife” to Tuesdays and rearranging the two hour comedy block there into whatever order would make the most sense (and do the least damage to “The Kids Are Alright,” for which ABC has high hopes).

That move would mean waving a white flag on Tuesdays — but present an intriguing opportunity on Wednesdays. The only new comedy other than “The Kids are Alright” to get a series order from ABC for next season is “Schooled,” a spinoff of “The Goldbergs.” “Schooled” is not yet on the schedule, but almost any “Roseanne” patch-job scenario involves it being moved to fall. Placing it at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday behind “The Goldbergs” gives the spinoff a solid shot at capturing the original’s audience. Alternatively, ABC could move “Fresh Off the Boat” or “Speechless” from the newly formed Friday comedy hour to Tuesday, then move “Schooled” into the vacant slot — or go with the unscripted standby of “Shark Tank” reruns on Friday in place of the comedy block, holding whichever comedy doesn’t move to Tuesday until midseason.

If ABC needs to ramp up additional development, it has Kenya Barris and Julie Bean’s untitled family comedy still in development. The show had been ordered to straight to series last season, but was pushed to off-cycle development in February after ABC failed to find a suitable replacement when planned star Alec Baldwin left the project.

A decision on ABC’s fall schedule is not expected for at least several days.

RELATED CONTENT:

More TV

  • James Holzhauer $2 million

    'Jeopardy!' Champion James Holzhauer Hits $2 Million Winnings Milestone

    This current “Jeopardy!” player has just won over $2 million on the popular game show. Who is James Holzhauer? The 34 year old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has hit a “Jeopardy!” milestone by becoming only the second person in the show’s history to win over $2 million in regular season play. Holzhauer won [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

  • CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism

    CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism Staffers (Report)

    CNN has laid off a handful of staffers from its health-journalism unit after deciding to place its health, climate and Southeastern newsgathering operations under a single aegis, according to a report in TVNewser. A CNN spokesperson could not be reached for immediate comment, but a the network said in a statement to the outlet: ” [...]

  • Henry Ian Cusick

    'Lost' Star Henry Ian Cusick Signs With Buchwald (EXCLUSIVE)

    Henry Ian Cusick, best known for playing Desmond on the hit ABC series “Lost,” is signing with talent agency Buchwald for representation. Cusick also starred in the CW sci-fi/drama “The 100” and was most recently seen in the Fox series “The Passage.” His other notable television credits include “Scandal,” “24,” “Fringe,” “The Mentalist,” “Body of [...]

  • Bryan Cranston First Time in Variety

    Bryan Cranston on His Early Roles, Dealing With Rejection and His 'Erasable Mind'

    Following his 2014 Tony Award for best actor as President Lyndon B. Johnson in Robert Schenkkan’s play “All the Way,” Bryan Cranston is looking to add to his trophy collection this year with his performance as Howard Beale in “Network.” The deranged anchorman — who’s famously “mad as hell and not going to take this [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content