BY DAVID BAUDER and LYNN ELBER
NEW YORK (AP) — Expect “Roseanne” to cool it on politics and concentrate on family stories when it returns for the second season of its revival next year.
That was the word Tuesday from ABC Entertainment chief Channing Dungey as she introduced the network’s plans for next year. The show’s return exceeded all expectations this spring, with the support of Roseanne Barr’s character for President Donald Trump attracting attention.
Dungey noted that as the first season went on, the focus shifted from politics to family.
“I think they’re going to continue on the path that they were on toward the latter part of this season, which is away from politics and more focused on family,” she said.
There may be good business and creative reasons for that. Asked if she was concerned that Barr’s opinions might affect how viewers perceive the show’s content, Dungey replied, “I do think there is a little bit of that, yes.”
Last year, ABC’s cancellation of Tim Allen’s “Last Man Standing,” another comedy with a conservative-leaning star, provoked social-media protests. Channing said Tuesday that the decision was solely based on ABC’s inability to come to contract terms with their studio partner — and she wished the show well in its new home at Fox, which picked it up for next season.
MAKE ‘EM LAUGH
Jimmy Kimmel punctuated ABC’s presentation of its fall schedule to advertisers with the scathing humor that’s become a staple of the annual event.
He spread the punchlines around, with his home network among the targets. Noting the cancellation of “Marvel’s Inhumans,” Kimmel said that ABC “did something remarkable …. we managed to have the only unsuccessful project with the word ‘Marvel’ in the title.”
Lamenting hit-making producer Shonda Rhimes’ decision to move from ABC to Netflix, Kimmel graciously lauded her as “an amazing talent and person who changed the face of this network” with dramas including “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.”
And on behalf of everyone at ABC, he added, “We hope she rots in hell.”
He moved on to the trend of series reboots, including the return of “Roseanne” to ABC.
“Everyone who says Hollywood is out of new ideas, we’re not. It’s just that one of our new ideas was to Google, ‘What were our old ideas?'” Kimmel said. He noted that CBS is resurrecting another past hit, “Murphy Brown,” then slammed the older-skewing competitor.
“CBS knows what millennials want, and they’ll be damned if they’ll give it to them,” he said.
MAKE ‘EM LAUGH, EXECUTIVE VERSION
In his remarks to advertisers, Disney-ABC Television Group President Ben Sherwood acknowledged how much the ratings success of Barr’s comedy means to ABC.
“If anyone came to play a drinking game based on how many times we said ‘Roseanne,’ you’re welcome,” Sherwood.
The ABC star they picked to open the presentation was — easy guess, Barr.
SO WHAT’S NEW?
A whopping total of eight new series will roll out on ABC’s schedule next fall and midseason, including five dramas and three comedies.
One of the hour-long shows, “A Million Little Things,” is about a group of friends who get a “wake-up call” to embrace life after one of them dies. It sounds on paper like an interconnected-lives show akin to NBC’s new drama, “The Village,” about residents in a New York apartment building. And that seems to echo NBC’s hit “This Is Us.” Must be a coincidence.
One new show stars a familiar ABC face: Nathan Fillion, formerly of “Castle.” This time around, he plays a small-town, middle-aged man with a dream of becoming a Los Angeles police officer in “The Rookie.”
“If you don’t know me, I’m probably a big deal to your mother,” a self-deprecating Fillion joked to advertisers during ABC’s presentation at Lincoln Center.
Another ex-ABC star, Eva Longoria of “Desperate Housewives,” is producing, not acting, for “Grand Hotel,” about a luxurious, family-owned hotel in Miami Beach. Mexican film star and Oscar nominee Demian Bichir leads the ensemble cast.
Two distinctly different non-scripted shows will debut this fall: “Dancing with the Stars: Juniors,” which will pair celebrity kids with young ballroom dance professionals, and “The Alec Baldwin Show,” a talk show featuring the actor and Donald Trump impersonator.
CUE THE PROTESTS
A slew of shows got the axe from ABC, which will undoubtedly prompt fans to call for another network or streaming service to give them a second chance at life. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” quickly found that at NBC after Fox canceled it, and “Last Man Standing” was resurrected — could any of the following be as well?
ABC’s dearly departed are “Marvel’s Inhumans,” ”10 Days in the Valley,” ”Designated Survivor,” ”Quantico,” ”Deception,” ”The Crossing,” ”Kevin (Probably) Saves the World,” ”The Mayor” and “Alex, Inc.”
One of them, “Alex, Inc.,” starring Zach Braff of “Scrubs” fame, barely had a chance to introduce itself since its March debut. A groundswell of audience support is unlikely.
The Kiefer Sutherland political thriller “Designated Survivor” attracted a lot of attention when it debuted a year ago. Ratings plummeted for its second season. Still, it was a little surprising that ABC gave up on it so quickly.
Backstage turmoil among the show’s creative team played a part, Dungey said.
“We were less confident about the creative path forward as we were about the other shows” on the schedule, she said.
Copyright 2018. The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.