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The woman behind 'Roseanne's' cancellation: Get to know Channing Dungey

The woman behind 'Roseanne's' cancellation: Get to know Channing Dungey
Channing Dungey succeeded Paul Lee as president of the ABC Entertainment in February 2016. (Craig Sjodin / Associated Press)

When "Roseanne" was canceled Tuesday, several hours after titular star Roseanne Barr posted a racist tweet, top TV talent such as Shonda Rhimes, Kenya Barris, Ava DuVernay and Viola Davis all singled out one name: Channing Dungey, the president of ABC Entertainment Group who announced the shocking news.

ABC's swift decision to cancel its top-rated show — and one of the most-viewed series of the entire 2017-18 season — is not the first time Dungey has made history. When she was named network president in February 2016, she became the first African American to hold the position.

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By Tuesday afternoon, the spotlight had suddenly shifted to Dungey, with her name trending on Twitter and gratitude pouring in from celebrities such as Kerry Washington and Marlee Matlin.

From The Times' archives, here's a closer look at how Dungey has made waves in the TV industry.

"Roseanne," starring Roseanne Barr and John Goodman, was canceled on Tuesday, as announced by ABC Entertainment Group President Channing Dungey.
"Roseanne," starring Roseanne Barr and John Goodman, was canceled on Tuesday, as announced by ABC Entertainment Group President Channing Dungey. (Adam Rose / ABC)

After 12 years working at ABC, Dungey is named president of ABC Entertainment Group. Her historic promotion comes just as Hollywood finds itself embroiled in the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, with the Academy Awards set to air later that month on, yup, ABC.

Dungey's promotion is credited to her close relationships with prolific showrunners such as Rhimes, with whom she worked on "Grey's Anatomy," "Private Practice," "Scandal" and "How to Get Away With Murder." "She is very bright and very well-regarded," Rick Rosen, partner and head of television at William Morris Endeavor, said.

In his first interview since Dungey's promotion, Disney Media Networks co-chairman Ben Sherwood praises her "creativity, collaboration and innovation." Discussing her plans and goals, Dungey emphasizes the importance of diversity: "It has been part of my mission in my old role and it will continue to be as diverse as we possibly can — both in front of and behind the camera," she said. "It makes sense from a storytelling perspective, it makes sense in terms of reflecting the world that we live in. And it also makes really good business sense."

At her first upfront presentation to advertisers in New York, Dungey points to the network's lineup of family comedies such as "Modern Family" and "black-ish." "The main thing was looking at what we do well, which is our signature brand of family comedies," she told the crowd.

At her inagural Television Critics Assn. press tour appearance, Dungey once again discusses the importance of diversity, particularly when it comes to the network's long-running reality franchise "The Bachelor." "We need to increase the pool of diverse candidates in the beginning. That is something we really want to put some effort and energy towards." Less than a year later, "The Bachelorette" names its first-ever African American bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay.

After her first full development season in charge, Dungey revives both "American Idol" and "Roseanne" for the 2017-18 season. "We're thrilled and excited to have it as part of our slate," Dungey said in May 2017 on a media call for the network's new fall schedule. Hours later, she welcomes the stars of "Roseanne" — and their famed family couch — onstage at ABC's upfront presentation to tout the family comedy's revival.

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After "Roseanne" premieres to an impressive 5.1 rating in the adults 18-49 demo, Dungey is quick to order a second season. At the upfront presentation for advertisers in May, Dungey unveils a fall schedule once again focusing on family comedies to build on "Roseanne's" success. The controversial comic also makes an appearance at the presentation.

Hours after Barr posts a racist tweet about former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, Dungey announces the show's cancellation in a terse statement. "Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show."

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