Executives at ABC are concerned that "Roseanne" spinoff, "The Connors," will flop without its former star and creator, Roseanne Barr, at the show's helm.
What are the details?
According to a Thursday report in the Daily Mail, the two senior ABC executives said that firing Barr was a "knee-jerk" reaction by ABC's network president and that the notion of firing Barr as opposed to suspending her wasn't a well-considered decision.
"We didn't think it through properly," the sources told DailyMailTV. "What Roseanne did was wrong, but we shouldn't have rushed to fire her."
The sources added, "It was almost a knee-jerk reaction by Ben [Sherwood] and Channing [Dungey], who should have launched an investigation."
The notion of launching an investigation, according to the sources, would have provided executives a larger window of time to "listen to the public, advertisers, and cast members" in order to determine the best course of action.
ABC cancelled the "Roseanne" revival in May after Barr tweeted what many considered to be a racist remark about former Obama aide, Valerie Jarrett.
In the tweet, Barr wrote, “[M]uslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” pointing to Jarrett, who is black.
She later denied that the remark was racist and said she didn't even realize that Jarrett is black.
What were the options?
The sources later said that the network could have suspended Barr from the first few episodes of taping and had her make a return later in the season.
"I mean, the season finale saw Roseanne going to the hospital for knee surgery," the sources explained. "While they worked out her fate, her character could have faced serious complications and fought for her life, while simultaneously making Roseanne fight for her career with a national apology tour."
The sources noted that the morning Barr's tweet exploded on the internet, Barr had even offered to issue public apologies and make the rounds on every talk and news show in order to make amends.
"Ben and Channing weren't having any of that and wanted her gone," the sources remarked. "Why not have her front a PSA for the network on racism and cyberbullying?"
The sources explained that Barr was apologetic and persistent.
"Roseanne kept saying on the call before she was fired, 'What can I do? What can I do?' Fans of her show have watched her character confront prejudice and racism — we could've made this a storyline for her to save the show and redeem her publicly," the sources continued.
What about the spinoff?
According to the sources, the network is now concerned that they made the wrong decision, and have worries that "The Connors" — the spinoff of the canned "Roseanne" — will bomb.
"When we greenlit 'The Connors,' we thought that the public would tune in to see the family return, but what we've discovered is that people want Roseanne — they don't want the family by themselves," the sources noted.
"The marketing and publicity teams are horrified, as no matter what promotional material is released — and let's be honest; it's been limited for a show that launches next Tuesday — Roseanne's fans come out in force stating that they won't watch the show," the sources added.
The unnamed sources also noted that even social media is skewed in Barr's favor and doesn't promise a strong turnout in viewership for the spinoff.
"Even dedicated fans of the Connors family feel conflicted about supporting a show that so swiftly eliminate the show's matriarch and creator," the sources explained. "The whisper across ABC is that [the spinoff's ratings] will not even be a quarter of what 'Roseanne' achieved last seasons."
The sources noted that it isn't out of the realm of possibility bringing Barr back to the show.
"Heck, who knows," the sources added. "Maybe she'll end up as Tim Allen's new neighbor on 'Last Man Standing.'"
According to the outlet, a spokesperson for ABC denied allegations that the network is worried about "The Connors" success or about Barr's firing.