Former ‘Roseanne’ producer talks about revival’s cancellation, potential spinoff: ‘I would just move on’

Marcy Carsey served as an executive producer during "Roseanne's" original nine-season run and all during "The Cosby Show's" eight-season run.
(Leo Sorel / Los Angeles Times)
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Former “Roseanne” executive producer Marcy Carsey weighed in on the revival’s recent cancellation Friday at the ATX Festival.

“I am very proud of the show that we did originally and I thought the show, the reboot, was terrific. Great job, great work, so all I can say is I’m as distant from it as you guys are,” said Carsey. “It’s a shame.”

Although Carsey served as an executive producer on the original “Roseanne” for all nine seasons along with her longtime producing partner Tom Werner, she was not involved with the revival.


“To have that work so well and be so creatively interesting and to have it just disappear like that when everybody thought they had a gig, 200 people, 300 people, so yeah, that’s a shame.”

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Carsey’s comments come less than two weeks after Barr sent a racist tweet about former President Obama aide Valerie Jarrett in which Barr compared Jarrett to an ape. Although she apologized, ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey called her remarks “abhorrent” and swiftly canceled the upcoming second season of the revival.

“I totally understand why they made that decision,” Carsey said, restating that she was not involved with the reboot. “I’m comfortable with it. I understand. ABC, just as an observer, seems to be doing a great job of diversifying its programming and its executive ranks. … I think it’s just not what the network wanted to have represented.”

After more than 20 years off the air, “Roseanne” returned to prime time with a bang, opening to a 5.1 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic and went on to become one of the top broadcast series of the entire TV season. More than 400 people are now out of work because of the cancellation, but ABC is said to be open to finding a way to continue the show in some new iteration – just so long as Barr is not in any way creatively or financially involved.


When asked how she would handle a potential Barr-less spinoff, Carsey expressed skepticism. “I would have a very difficult time. I think I would not… I think I would just say, ‘OK, we had a wonderful run.’ I love the show that we did all those years ago and I think the reboot was great.”

“I would just move on,” she added.

In addition to the cancellation of the new season of “Roseanne,” old episodes of the blue-collar comedy have been removed by Viacom’s cable channels. Hulu also removed episodes of the revival from its streaming platform in the wake of Barr’s controversial comments.

Carsey was at the seventh annual ATX Festival to receive the ATX Award in Television Excellence. In addition to “Roseanne,” Carsey produced several long-running sitcoms including “3rd Rock From the Sun,” “A Different World,” “That ’70s Show” and “The Cosby Show.”

Bill Cosby, center, leaves the Montgomery County Courthouse after being convicted of drugging and molesting a woman.
(Matt Slocum / AP )

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Immediately after the topic of “Rosanne” was broached, talk moved to Bill Cosby and the flood of rape and sexual assault allegations he has faced in recent years. Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault in April and is awaiting sentencing.

Carsey said she was shocked by the allegations made against Cosby and shared her fond memories of working with him on the original NBC sitcom, which ran for eight seasons. “The impact was what it was and all I can say is life gives you these surprises. The Roseanne political stance? What a surprise. Bill Cosby? A man who… All I can say is the guy who we worked with, the guy who we knew him to be, or thought him to be… was a wonderful guy, a collaborative guy, a brilliant guy. Very, very kind-hearted. When anybody on set had a loss or whatever, he was right there. It’s a shocker.”

When asked about “The Cosby Show’s” legacy in the wake of his personal scandal, Carsey had mixed feelings.

“I guess my desire would be, my wish would be that the work can stand apart,” she said. “As a person, it’s hard for me too.”

Like “Roseanne,” repeats of “The Cosby Show” have become scarce on cable following his scandal. “All these decades later, to have these revelations… it’s awful but it happens,” she said.