Roseanne Barr Fallout: A Complete Guide to How Her Racist Tweet Led to Cancellation and 'The Conners'

ET breaks down everything that's happened to the comedian since she posted (and then deleted) a controversial tweet earlier this year.

It's been a disastrous few months for Roseanne Barr.

The 65-year-old comedian has faced major backlash after posting a racist comment about Barack Obama's former White House adviser, Valerie Jarrett, via Twitter in May.  

Since then, the former Roseanne star hasn't been able to get herself out of hot water. From her controversial remark to how her co-stars have reacted -- and how a Roseanne spinoff rose from the ashes -- ET breaks down everything that's happened (so far) during the ongoing fallout.

The Initial Tweet

The scandal all started on May 29, when Barr posted the following tweet: "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj."

Barr was referring to Jarrett, who is black and was born in Iran. The tweet has since been deleted.

The First Apology

As people flooded her mentions, Barr apologized and proclaimed she was leaving Twitter.

"I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans," she emphasized in another tweet. "I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me - my joke was in bad taste."

However, her break from Twitter didn't last long, as she was back on social media within a few hours of that post.

"Don't feel sorry for me, guys!!" she said upon her return. "I just want to apologize to the hundreds of people, and wonderful writers (all liberal) and talented actors who lost their jobs on my show due to my stupid tweet."

ABC Cancels Roseanne

Shortly after the backlash began, ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey revealed the network was canceling the sitcom in a statement released to the press.

"Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show," the statement read. 

"There was only one thing to do here, and that was the right thing," Disney-ABC Chairman and CEO Bob Iger added on Twitter.

Additionally, ABC removed all references to the revival series on its press site and Viacom pulled all reruns of the sitcom's entire run from all of its channels.

Two days later, Barr claimed she "begged" ABC executives not to cancel the popular series.

"I begged [Disney-ABC Television Group President] Ben Sherwood at ABC to let me apologize and make amend[s]," she wrote in a now-deleted tweet. "I begged them not to cancel the show. I told them I was willing to do anything and asked for help in making things right. I'd worked doing publicity for them for free for weeks, traveling, thru bronchitis. I begged for people's jobs."

ICM Drops Barr as a Client

The talent agency that previously represented Barr sent a note to their employees on May 29, notifying them of the actress' abrupt termination.  

"We are all greatly distressed by the disgraceful and unacceptable tweet from Roseanne Barr this morning," the memo read. "What she wrote is antithetical to our core values, both as individuals and as an agency. Consequently, we have notified her that we will not represent her. Effective immediately, Roseanne Barr is no longer a client." 

Stars From the Sitcom Speak Out

It wasn't long before Twitter erupted with reactions from Barr's Roseanne co-stars, condemning her for the racist remark that led ABC to pull the plug on their show.

A production source told ET at the time that those who worked on the show were "horrified," and felt that perhaps the reboot "wasn't meant to be."

"As I called my manager to quit working on Roseanne, I was told it was cancelled," Emma Kenney, who played Barr's granddaughter, Harris Conner-Healy, on the sitcom wrote in a series of tweets. "I am hurt, embarrassed, and disappointed. The racist and distasteful comments from Roseanne are inexcusable."

Kenney's onscreen mother, Sara Gilbert (Darlene), also weighed in, writing, "Roseanne's recent comments about Valerie Jarrett, and so much more, are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show. I am disappointed in her actions to say the least."

"This is incredibly sad and difficult for all of us, as we've created a show that we believe in, are proud of, and that audiences love -- one that is separate and apart from the opinions and words of one cast member," she added.

And according to Michael Fishman -- who played Barr's onscreen son, D.J., in both the original series and the revival -- May 29 was "one of the hardest days" of his life. 

"I feel devastated, not for the end of the Roseanne show, but for all those who poured their hearts and souls into our jobs, and the audience that welcomed us into their homes," he explained. "Our cast, crew, writers, and production staff strived for inclusiveness, with numerous storylines designed to reflect inclusiveness. The words of one person do not exemplify the thinking of all involved. I condemn these statements vehemently."

Wanda Sykes, a consulting producer on the show, was actually one of the first to speak out. Before ABC even announced the cancellation, Sykes exclaimed via Twitter that she would "not be returning to @RoseanneABC."

Read more celebrity reactions (HERE).

Valerie Jarrett Responds

After being the target of Barr's racist tweet, Jarrett appeared on MSNBC for a town hall discussing "Everyday Racism in America."

"Tone does start at the top, and we like to look up to our president and feel as though he reflects the values of our country," Jarrett said during the town hall discussion with hosts Joy Reid and Chris Hayes. "But I also think that every individual citizen has a responsibility too. And it's up to all of us to push back -- our government is only going to be as good as we make it be."

"People on the inside have to push hard, and people on the outside have to listen," she continued. "I think we have to turn it into a teaching moment. I'm fine."

According to MSNBC, the hope of the town hall was to "open a national dialogue" by addressing the state of "racial bias in society and what can be done to effect change." 

Barr Apologizes Again; Blames Ambien

In a new series of apologetic tweets, Barr claimed her controversial remark was a result of her tweeting under the influence of the prescription sleep aid Ambien.

"Guys I did something unforgivable so do not defend me," Barr tweeted the night of May 29. "It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweetin."

"It was Memorial Day too," she added. "I went too far and do not want it defended-it was egregious Indefensible. I made a mistake I wish I hadn't but...don't defend it please. Ty."

Ambien Responds

Sanofi, the pharmaceutical company behind Ambien, released its own statement via Twitter shortly after: "People of all races, religions and nationalities work at Sanofi every day to improve the lives of people around the world. While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication."

ABC showrunner Shonda Rhimes also tweeted in response to Barr's Ambien allegation, writing, "Omg. I used to take Ambien! How many times was I racist in my sleep?! GIRL BYE. #ownyouractions."

Barr Continues to Defend Herself and Insists She's 'Not a Racist'

The comedian was back at it again on May 30, attempting to explain her tweet about Jarrett even further.

"I'm not a racist, I never was & I never will be," she exclaimed. "One stupid joke in a lifetime of fighting 4 civil rights 4 all minorities, against networks, studios, at the expense of my nervous system/family/wealth will NEVER b taken from me."

She also tweeted back to some of her co-stars, specifically calling out Gilbert and Fishman for not having her back. To Fishman she wrote, "I created the platform for that inclusivity and you know it. ME. You throw me under the bus. nice!"

Her reply to Gilbert was a bit simpler. "Wow! unreal," she tweeted.

John Goodman Breaks His Silence

Meanwhile, Barr's onscreen husband, John Goodman (Dan), was spotted at an auto repair shop in New Orleans on May 30. In footage obtained by ET, the actor cautiously reacted to the drama.

"[I'd] rather say nothing than to cause more trouble," he said, adding that he's doing OK amid the controversy. "Everything's fine."

Around the same time our article was published, Barr praised Goodman and another one of their co-stars, Laurie Metcalf, via Twitter.

"I just wish ABC had not thrown two of the greatest actors in the world out with me - Laurie and John," she wrote. "I'm so sick over this - they will never have better character actors on their network."

Barr Cancels Scheduled Podcast Interview

The Salt Lake City, Utah, native was expected to share her side of the story on comedian Joe Rogan's podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, on June 1.

Rogan took to Twitter early Friday, however, to reveal Barr would no longer be joining him. "The Roseanne podcast is not happening today," he shared. "She's not doing well and doesn't want to travel, and she's gone radio silent on me, so I'm just going to step away."

"The whole thing has been pretty brutal on her, and I hope she can find some peace," he added.

Spinoff Rumors Spark

Since Roseanne got the boot, rumors circulated that the show could possibly continue in the form of a spinoff, focusing on other characters from the series.

A source told ET on May 30 that the possibility of a Roseanne spinoff show (without Barr) wasn't necessarily off the table. "There are very tentative conversations, in very early stages about the possibility of a spinoff, but it is much too early," the source said at the time.

Another source told ET on June 1 that ABC is continuing talks with producers about trying to save jobs by finding a way to reprise and rebrand Roseanne into a new show possibly centered on other characters from the cast.

Sara Gilbert Speaks Out in First TV Appearance After Cancellation

Gilbert candidly opened up about the scandal on the June 4 episode of The Talk, saying that she stood by ABC's decision to cancel the show. 

"In addition to my statement, I would like to say that this has been a very difficult week," she said. "A lot of people have been hurt by this. I will say I am proud of the show we made. The show has always been about love, diversity and inclusion and it’s sad to see it end in this way. I am sad for the people who lost their jobs in the process. However, I do stand behind the decision that ABC made."

Barr Speaks Out About Cancellation

On June 5, Barr declared that she was "making restitution for the pain I have caused," as a source with knowledge of the situation told ET that ABC and Roseanne producers were in serious discussions about spinning off the show without her. 

According to the source, multiple ideas were being discussed behind closed doors and “it is more than likely the entire cast (minus Barr) and crew would return” if an agreement on a reboot can be made, and that conversations were "moving swiftly.”

Barr Attempts to Smooth Things Over With Co-Stars

By June 19, a source told ET that Barr had been reaching out personally to former cast and crew members of Roseanne to apologize. According to the source, on at least one occassion, Barr "broke down" during the call, and that in particular, Barr was worried about actress Jayden Rey. 

The young star played Barr's onscreen granddaughter, Mary, on the show, and ET's source said Barr was mortified to think she doesn't love her because of the color of her skin. The source noted that there remained a lot of confusion by those who know Barr, because the racist behavior exhibited by her on Twitter is not the woman they knew.

Roseanne Spinoff Ordered to Series

Just two days later, ABC announced they had formally ordered a Roseanne spinoff, tentatively titled The Conners, for 10 episodes to premiere this fall. Goodman, Metcalf, Gilbert, Lecy Goranson and Fishman were all confirmed to reprise their iconic characters, and sources told ET that the hope is to have Rey, Ames McNamara and Kenney return, but their deals are not done yet. Barr will not receive any financial compensation or have any creative input in the series. 

In a statement to ET, Barr said, "I regret the circumstances that have caused me to be removed from Roseanne. I agreed to the settlement in order that 200 jobs of beloved cast and crew could be saved, and I wish the best for everyone involved." 

Meanwhile, a synopsis of the new show led many to wonder how Barr's absence would be addressed -- and whether her character would be killed off. 

Barr Gives First TV Interview Since the Scandal

On July 26, Barr gave her first broadcast interview since the scandal to Sean Hannity on Fox News' Hannity, where she teared up over the controversy. 

Barr insisted that her infamous tweet wasn't racist, but rather "political," and said that she sent Jarrett a message.  "I'm so sorry that you thought my tweet was racist because it wasn't, it was political. I'm sorry for the misunderstanding that caused my ill-worded tweet. I'm sorry that you feel harm and hurt. I never meant that and for that I apologize," she said. "I never meant to hurt anybody or say anything negative about an entire race of people."

The comedian also opened up about how being labeled a racist affected her. 

"The first thing was shock that they were saying it was racial, when it's political. That was a hard one to take," she admitted. "Then everybody started to say I was a racist, which is the worst thing that you can call a Jewish person, especially someone like me who grew up with Holocaust survivors."

Barr, who lives in Hawaii, also confessed to being scared to step outside her home following her tweet, "I was so scared to go outside. Everyone thinks I am a racist. I live on an island where it's all brown people."

Goodman Defends His Former TV Wife

In late August, Goodman candidly defended Barr in an interview with The Sunday Times

“I was brokenhearted, but I thought, ‘OK, it’s just show business, I’m going to let it go,'" he recalled. "But I went through a period, about a month, where I was very depressed. I’m a depressive anyway, so any excuse that I can get to lower myself, I will. But that had a great deal to do with it, more than I wanted to admit.”

“I know, I know, for a fact that she’s not a racist," he said, praising Barr for relinquishing her rights to the show, and admitting he was "surprised" by ABC's decision to fire her. "We were work friends." 

Barr Says She Has to "Be Neutral"

In a Sept. 5 interview with ET, Barr opened up about the show moving on without her. "I just have to be neutral and walk away," she said, when asked for her reaction to reports that her character will be killed off on The Conners. "I did walk away, so people can keep their jobs."

Barr continued, sharing that she agreed to sign off on the project -- and forfeit her financial interests -- so that her former co-stars wouldn't suffer from her actions. 

"You know, there's always a silver lining in every cloud, and the tough part is to find it," Barr said, maintaining her neutral and guardedly professional position on the series.

Then She Takes Some Shots at the Spinoff

Just two weeks later, however, Barr revealed on Brandon Straka’s YouTube show, Walk Away, that she wasn't happy with how The Conners dealt with her character. 

“Oh yeah, they killed her,” she said. “They have her die of an opioid overdose.”

“It wasn’t enough to [fire me], they had to so cruelly insult the people who loved that family and that show,” Barr continued. “There’s nothing I can do about it. It’s done. It’s over. There’s no fight left.”

But the Cast Says the Show Won't "Ignore the Past"

A month later, ABC was ready to introduce The Conners. In a featurette released on Oct. 16, hours before the premiere episode, the cast assured fans that things won't feel that unfamiliar. 

"We have been through so much this spring and summer," admitted Goranson, "so to be back together again is such a blessing."

"I'm assuming that people will be curious about the first one," Metcalf acknowledged. "And then hopefully they'll feel like they're in good hands with the family."

"The show is not ignoring the past at all," Kenney explained. "It's just moving forward and continuing to evolve."

"There's definitely things we're doing that we obviously haven't explored before, because the dynamics are shifting this time," Gilbert shared. "So different characters step into different roles."

Watch the video below for more. 


Latest News