Can you imagine Roseanne without Roseanne Barr? ABC can. Less than a month after canceling the top-rated sitcom reboot in the aftermath of a racist tweet by the actress, the network announced it was bringing back the series sans its titular star.
“We are grateful to have reached this agreement to keep our team working as we continue to explore stories of the Conner family,” executive producer Tom Werner said of the revived series, which is tentatively titled The Conners. Sara Gilbert, who co-stars as daughter Darlene Conner and executive produced the reboot, is expected to become the show’s central figure, with more focus on her children: rebellious teen Harris Conner-Healy (Emma Kenney) and gender-fluid Mark Conner-Healy (Ames McNamara). “I’m so excited,” Sara said of the project.
That’s a feeling shared by her fellow cast members, all of whom will return to their roles for a 10-episode season this fall. “We have received a tremendous amount of support from fans of our show, and it’s clear that these characters not only have a place in our hearts, but in the hearts and homes of our audience,” Sara, along with John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Michael Fishman, and Lecy Goranson, said in a statement. “We all came back last season because we wanted to tell stories about the challenges facing a working-class family today. We are so happy to have the opportunity to return with the cast and crew to continue to share those stories through love and laughter.”
When the network announced it was moving forward without Roseanne, she issued her own statement, saying, “I regret the circumstances that have caused me to be removed from Roseanne… and I wish the best for everyone involved.” She expressed even more emotional remorse in a podcast interview with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach that was recorded only two days after the scandal broke but released to the public several weeks later: “I’m so sorry that I was so unclear and stupid… I’ve lost everything.”
Most of her co-stars “feel sorry for Roseanne,” an insider exclusively told Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “They didn’t like what she said, but she never said those things on the set.”
The fate of her character remains unknown. In last season’s finale, Roseanne Conner was battling an opioid dependency and preparing to undergo life-threatening surgery. According to the network, “After a sudden turn of events, the Conners are forced to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before.” That description led some to suspect Roseanne’s character will be killed off, just as the characters of problematic stars Valerie Harper and Charlie Sheen were on Valerie and Two and a Half Men, respectively. “They don’t want to make Roseanne’s absence an ongoing storyline,” the insider said. “They want a clean break.”
To achieve that, Roseanne, 65, agreed to receive no credit or money for the new season. “That was a major surprise,” said the insider. “No one really thought she would go that quietly.” But Roseanne claims she has “agreed to the settlement in order that 200 jobs could be saved.” But she has, and the show will move forward. “The Conner family represents acceptance,” said star Emma. “I feel so blessed to be able to show that this fall.”
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