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ABC orders Roseanne spin-off

Roseanne was cancelled following a Twitter comment from star Roseanne Barr

US network ABC has ordered a series spun off from cancelled sitcom Roseanne featuring most of the original cast, minus Roseanne Barr.

The Conners (working title) has been greenlit for a 10-episode run from this autumn and will see the actors from the original show reprise their roles without the involvement of  Barr.

Roseanne, which was a surprise hit for ABC after its return from a 20-year hiatus, was axed last month after Barr tweeted a racist comment about Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser to the Obama administration. ABC confirmed that Barr will have no “financial or creative involvement” in the spin-off.

The new series will focus on the Conner family, which is forced to face the daily struggles of working-class life in a small Illinois town after a sudden turn of events.

The show is produced by Tom Werner under his Werner Entertainment banner, unlike Roseanne, which was produced by The Casey-Werner Company.

Werner will exec produce along with Sara Gilbert, who stars in the show, Roseanne exec producer Bruce Helford, Dave Caplan, Bruce Rasmussen and Tony Hernandez. Helford, Caplan and Rasmussen also serve as writers.

Rumours of a spin-off to Roseanne had abounded since the show’s demise, especially in light of the show’s success and a backlash about the cast and crew being left without jobs. Having pulled in a reported US$45m of advertising revenue for ABC during its return, the show was expected to make US$60m for its 11th season.

Speaking to C21 at the time of the show’s cancellation, Marc Berman, editor-in-chief of Programming Insider, presciently said the show could be revived.

“I’m one of those people who think if there was a way they could do it, they could keep the show on, rename it – call it The Conner Family – and do whatever,” he said. “That’s a possibility. Roseanne got people excited about the linear platform again. Maybe there’s a way to keep it going.

“The lesson to be learned is a realistic portrayal of an American family could resonate if you do it right. Keep it real, keep it diversified, talk about issues, talk about what’s happening.”

In support of their new series, cast members John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert, Lecy Goranson and Michael Fishman said in a joint statement that they had received a “tremendous amount of support from fans of our show.”

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