Meet the … Bonners?
There could be a scenario in the works where ABC salvages significant parts of Roseanne without having to say goodbye to some of the best actors on television (here’s looking at you, Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman). Though ABC made a swift decision Tuesday to cancel the successful reboot, EW has learned that ABC has not exactly washed its hands of the family comedy.
Here’s the challenge, though: Roseanne was created by Roseanne Barr. The characters were conceived by her and Matt Williams. If the sitcom were to continue without the matriarch, the actress would still benefit financially. So a key insider informs EW that discussions will continue today on whether it makes sense to keep the other actors but potentially design a new series around them — ergo, the Bonners, or whatever you want to call Goodman, Metcalf, and the clan of misfits. Nothing has been decided, however, and various options are still being weighed.
It’s not as if everyone scattered after Tuesday’s cancellation announcement. After ABC ordered a second season of Roseanne in March, EW confirmed that cast options were picked up for another 13 episodes. Carsey-Werner, which produces the sitcom for ABC, is still on the hook for paying those salaries. And since ABC ordered a new season, it bears its own financial brunt from the cancellation. So keeping some kind of show intact wouldn’t be the worst decision for ABC.
Several of Roseanne’s best writers certainly aren’t going anywhere. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, executive producer Dave Caplan noted that he, together with Roseanne EPs Bruce Helford and Bruce Rasmussen, are staying put with ABC. “[They] have a pilot project with Tom Werner for ABC, and we’ll continue working together. I know that Tom really regretted the fact that we had such a wonderful writing staff together — a real rare collection of talent — and I know he’d like to continue using it in some fashion if that were possible.”
Even Barr herself lamented on Twitter about how her actions resulted in hundreds of people being out of work. (Read more of her response on Twitter here). Officially, ABC isn’t talking about any new chapter for the now-beleaguered series, but Disney-ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood just sent out a statement to staff that said, in part, “we are so sorry the [cast and crew] were swept up in all of this and give thanks for their remarkable talents, wish them well, and hope to find another way to work together down the road.”
So what if ABC ultimately decides to make it all go away? “It’s not that much money,” observes a competing studio. “When you cancel a show, there are cancellation fees. And then there are costs of actually shutting down the production.”
The real loss comes from the potential ad revenue — Kantar Media ballparked it at $60 million next season in the New York Times — and what a show like Roseanne could have done for ABC’s schedule, to say nothing of how Carsey-Werner continues to lose boatloads of cash after the Viacom networks and Hulu yanked the Roseanne reruns. “Think of the ripple effect that show would have had on other shows,” observes the studio exec. “Now ABC won’t be able to start Tuesday nights with a giant.”
ABC declined to comment.