ABC chief de­tails ‘Roseanne’

Di­vi­sion pres­i­dent Chan­ning Dungey says re­vived se­ries is re­tool­ing fi­nale facts.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Stephen Battaglio stephen.battaglio @la­times.com Twit­ter: @SteveBattaglio

Dan Con­ner will rise from the dead in the new ver­sion of “Roseanne.”

Fans of the clas­sic orig­i­nal ver­sion of ABC’s bluecol­lar sit­com will re­call that in the se­ries fi­nale, the char­ac­ter of Roseanne’s hus­band, Dan, played by John Good­man, was said to have died of a heart at­tack.

It was part of a darker, un­ex­pected course that the se­ries took in its fi­nal sea­son in which star Roseanne Barr had com­plete cre­ative con­trol.

But ABC En­ter­tain­ment Pres­i­dent Chan­ning Dungey told re­porters at the Tele­vi­sion Crit­ics Assn. press tour on Sun­day in Bev­erly Hills that the pa­tri­arch’s heart will beat anew as part of the mid­sea­son, eight-episode re­vival to air dur­ing the 201718 TV sea­son.

“I wouldn’t say that it is ig­nor­ing the events of the fi­nale, but I can con­firm that Dan is def­i­nitely still alive,” she said.

Dungey also said that the up­dated se­ries will be true to what it was when fans em­braced it dur­ing the years when it was among the toprated shows on net­work tele­vi­sion that ad­dressed the chal­lenges faced by work­ing­class fam­i­lies. The se­ries ran on ABC from 1988 to 1997 and has re­mained pop­u­lar in syn­di­ca­tion.

The orig­i­nal cast has signed on to par­tic­i­pate with the ex­cep­tion of Johnny Galecki, who stars on the CBS se­ries “The Big Bang The­ory.” Dungey said ABC is in talks with the ac­tor, who played David Healy on the se­ries.

“We feel very con­fi­dent that it re­turns to the show that we re­ally know and love,” Dungey said. “It’s very much tonally sim­i­lar to the orig­i­nal show. It’s un­flinch­ing, it is hon­est, it is ir­rev­er­ent at times and very, very funny.”

The wild-card as­pect of the deal ABC made to get the se­ries was to al­low Barr to make the show with lit­tle in­put from the net­work’s pro­gram­ming ex­ec­u­tives. ABC had to agree to that pro­vi­sion to match an of­fer made by the stream­ing ser­vice Net­flix.

ABC will also find it­self back in the busi­ness of deal­ing with the un­pre­dictable real-life Roseanne, who uses her Twit­ter feed as a plat­form for her un­con­ven­tional po­lit­i­cal views. (Barr sought the Green Party nom­i­na­tion for pres­i­dent in 2012.)

Dungey noted that Barr an­nounced a few weeks ago that her son is go­ing to be tak­ing over her Twit­ter feed soon.

“We did not ask her to do that, but she did make that de­ci­sion,” Dungey said. “What we’ve heard from Roseanne is she is very ex­cited about the show and wants to be very fo­cused on the show.”

Dungey noted that she was not con­cerned about what one reporter de­scribed as the “wacky con­spir­acy stuff ” that has ap­peared on Barr’s Twit­ter feed in re­cent days.

“I try to just worry about the things that I can con­trol,” Dungey said.

In re­cent months, ABC al­ready had its share of con­tro­versy from “Bach­e­lor in Par­adise,” its sum­mer re­al­ity spinoff of “The Bach­e­lor.” Pro­duc­tion was sus­pended on June 11 af­ter it was re­vealed that two in­tox­i­cated con­tes­tants were filmed hav­ing a sex­ual en­counter on the set. Ques­tions were raised on whether the fe­male con­tes­tant in­volved had con­sented.

Once pro­duc­tion re­sumed June 20, af­ter the show’s stu­dio Warner Bros. con­ducted an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion that found no wrong­do­ing, ABC aired a pro­mo­tional spot that ap­peared to cap­i­tal­ize on the scan­dal.

Dungey said the spot was pulled af­ter a rash of bad press that sug­gested the net­work was in­sen­si­tive to a sit­u­a­tion in which the safety of the con­tes­tants was in ques­tion.

“The promo in ques­tion did not re­fer to the al­leged in­ci­dent at all,” Dungey said. “It ac­tu­ally was com­prised of a bunch of tweets from ‘Bach­e­lor’ [fans] who were ex­press­ing their po­ten­tial dis­ap­point­ment that there wouldn’t be a sea­son and then the joy that there would be. We thought that it was cheeky and funny and sort of in line with the show.

“How­ever,” Dungey added, “the re­sponse told us oth­er­wise, and then we pulled it.”

Dungey would not go into de­tail on what pre­cau­tions were taken on the “Bach­e­lor in Par­adise” set af­ter the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, not­ing it was han­dled by Warner Bros.

“It cer­tainly has brought to light some safety is­sues that we want to make sure that we are more on top of mov­ing for­ward in terms of mak­ing sure that our con­tes­tants are safe and pro­tected at all times,” she said.

Tib­rina Hob­son AFP / Getty Images

ACTRESS Katy Mixon, left, mixes it up with ABC En­ter­tain­ment Pres­i­dent Chan­ning Dungey at the Tele­vi­sion Crit­ics Assn. sum­mer tour in Bev­erly Hills.

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