ABC has yet to announce a potential Roseanne spin-off without Roseanne Barr, but the network is still on the tortoise-pace journey to greenlighting it. The big issue now is how ABC and the producers could move forward without Barr earning a slice of the profits.
According to an update on the situation from Deadline, executive producer Tom Werner, actress/producer Sara Gilbert and showrunner Bruce Helford pitched an idea of making a show about the Conners without matriarch Roseanne Conner. ABC liked the idea, and now lawyers are hard at work.
Since Roseanne was canceled after Barr's racist tweet late last month, ABC is under pressure to make sure she has no involvement in the project at all. The lawyers will need to figure out if Barr would have a creative credit and ownership on the original series.
Notably, the original series is credited as "created by Matt Williams, based upon a character created by Roseanne Barr." Deadline points out that the "based upon a character" credit could be dropped if it is a show without the specific character she created, therefore making sure Barr's name is nowhere on the show and cutting her out of the profits. But Barr could argue that all of the characters in the series only exist because of Barr's character. That could spark a lawsuit from Barr.
Deadline reports that people close to the project are "optimistic and hopeful" that something can be worked out. That decision has to be made very soon, since the cast can only be kept waiting for so long.
Series stars John Goodman and Laurie Metcalf could move on to find other acting gigs and still be paid for a never-made new Roseanne season. The rest of the crew and writers will not be though, and they need to quickly find new jobs. That is no easy task at this point, with many shows already in production for next season.
Reports last week made it sound as if a Roseanne spin-off announcement was only days away, but it never came before the end of the week. The Hollywood Reporter's sources said Werner, who was one of the original producers for Roseanne from the beginning, is "highly engaged" in coming up with a new show, possibly starring Gilbert's Darlene.
Roseanne's 10th season was the most-watched sitcom of the 2017-18 season, but ABC cancelled it on May 29 after Barr's racist tweet about former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett.
Since then, the network has been left with a gaping hole on its 2018 fall schedule. The show was supposed to air at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesdays, but ABC has not announced a replacement. The only sitcom ABC could have ready is Schooled, the '90s-set spinoff of The Goldbergs.