ABC chief details ‘Roseanne’
Division president Channing Dungey says revived series is retooling finale facts.
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.
ACTRESS Katy Mixon, left, mixes it up with ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey at the Television Critics Assn. summer tour in Beverly Hills.