Disney CEO Bob Iger called Roseanne's cancellation following Roseanne Barr's racist tweets "the right thing" to do. In this case, the right thing will come at a steep price.
Although the decision was viewed as necessary given the offensive comments made by the series creator and star toward former Barack Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, sources reveal the cancellation will cost the company "tens of millions of dollars." And that doesn't include ad revenue.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Roseanne reboot was expected to drive at least $60 million in its 11th season.
The unexpected cancellation came after Barr tweeted that Jarrett was a product of the Black Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes. Sources told THR however, that the network won't be able to invoke the clause which would allow producers to cancel contracts due to unforeseen, catastrophic events. This means ABC will have to make some tough choices about whether to compensate the cast and crew for the planned 13-episode second season.
The sources added that no conversations were had about how to handle contracts, given that the decision was made so swiftly. ABC's top television executives, Ben Sherwood and Channing Dungey, are expected to meet with representatives for Roseanne executive producer Tom Werner, on the subject of compensation for the cast and crew.
According to multiple insiders, Sara Gilbert, Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman recently negotiated new deals for the 11th season at $350,000 per episode, and they are reportedly expecting to still be compensated for the season since "their options were exercised."
"They'll lawyer up if they have to," a source close to the show told THR.
Compensation for the writing staff is more complicated, however. Only a very select few — and maybe even just one — have a clause in their contracts that requires that they be paid for a minimum number of episodes, in this case 10, regardless of whether anything gets produced.
The remainder of the writing staff is contractually obligated to be paid only for produced episodes, of which there were none. The writers room for the second season opened Tuesday, but reports suggest not much got done after the viral tweet.
THR reports reps for the writers are expected to fight for at least some compensation, arguing that the writers passed up other employment to work on Roseanne.
"Nobody really knows yet what kind of compensation they're going to get," writer and exec producer Dave Caplan told THR said, "Everybody is a little bit on edge about how it's going to turn out."
A representative for one of the show's top writers added, "Houses could be lost, no exaggeration, depending on how ABC handles this. Jobs are done for year in network TV."
The report comes hours after Sherwood shared a company memo to the Roseanne staff apologizing for the show's abrupt cancellation.
"Not enough... has been said about the many men and women who poured their hearts and lives into the show and were just getting started on next season," Sherwood wrote. "We're so sorry they were swept up in all of this and we give thanks for their remarkable talents, wish them well, and hope to find another way to work together down the road."