In May 2017, ABC announced that its hit comedy sitcom, “Roseanne,” would return to the network two decades after the original series had wrapped up its 9th season run with comedienne Roseanne Barr and the cast. Now, one year after its return, ABC Entertainment President, Channing Dungey, has axed the reboot due to one star’s distasteful rant on social media.
Last week, Barr tweeted the following about former Obama administration adviser, Valerie Jarrett: “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” The star also retweeted a meme of President Donald Trump next to an orangutans, and an image of Jarrett next to a picture of a “Planet of the Apes” actress. Barr later deleted the post apologizing and calling it a “bad joke.”
Although she tweeted a second apology to the writers and co-stars of the show, Barr’s racist Twitter rant resulted in her being abandoned by several companies, including her talent agency, ICM Partners, and criticized by her colleagues. Additionally, Hulu and the Laff Comedy channel are pulling re-runs of “Roseanne” from their schedules.
As the first African American to serve as the programming chief for one of the major broadcast networks, cancelling ‘Roseanne’ was a decision that seemed to come with little hesitation for Dungey. This comes as a surprise to many being that the show earned an estimated $45 million in advertising revenue for the network.
Perhaps Barr didn’t understand the history of Black people being compared to monkeys and the racism and dehumanization behind the term. Whether she was aware or not is beside the point, and Dungey stepped up to address the issues and teach a lesson for other likeminded individuals.
Who Is Channing Dungey?
Prior to being considered an “executive on the rise,” Dungey was a young Black girl who grew up in a predominantly White neighborhood in Sacramento, California. Later, she attended UCLA and in 1991, she graduated magna cum laude from the UCLA School of Theatre, Film, and Television.
Her career began at Davis Entertainment at 20th Century Fox as a development assistant. Later, she went on to work at Steamroller Productions as a story editor and later senior vice president at Material Film. In 2004, she left Material Film to start her own production company.
Soon after she received an offer to join Touchstone Television, where she served as senior vice president of drama development (formerly ABC Television Studio). She also was vice president of drama series, developing programming and oversaw creative executives.
Since her time at ABC, Dungey has held the title of executive vice president, drama development, movies & miniseries, ABC Entertainment Group. She has had the pleasure of developing and launching a variety of series including: “Scandal,” “Quanitco,” “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” and “How to Get Away with Murder.”
Aside from her work at ABC, Dungey also teaches a graduate-level course on “Developing the Drama Pilot.” Dungey also serves on the board of Step Up, a national non-profit focusing on helping young girls in under-resourced communities fulfill their potential.
Dungey’s appointment as ABC’s Entertainment President came during a heightened time of intense scrutiny in regards to Hollywood’s lack of diversity. In particular, due to the White Oscar nominees for the 2016 Academy Awards. However, she and her team at ABC will continue to produce series that reflect the diversity of their viewers all while challenging racism and addressed issues happening in communities of color. Her zero tolerance for the incident that took place with actress Barr, is an example of what can happen when people of color are placed in positions of authority.