Season 6 will be the last one for Schitt’s Creek.
Season 2 of The O.A. is now available to stream on Netflix.
Showtime’s mini-series Action, about the legalization of sports gambling, premieres on Sunday.
A Parks and Recreation reboot? Much more below.
Season 2 of Yellowstone will bow on Paramount Network on June 19.
“Mark Steines has been tapped as host of Nat Geo Wild’s Animal ER Live, a four-week, live event series from Live PD creators Big Fish Entertainment, an MGM Company. Animal ER Live airs Saturday and Sunday nights at 9 PM ET/PT, for four weeks premiering Saturday, March 30.”
“Discovery’s Science Channel will re-create what Queen Cleopatra may have looked like through the use of modern technology and explore other legends of Ancient Egypt in Egypt’s Unexplained Files, its new 10-part series. The two-hour season premiere will see experts focus on recreating Queen Cleopatra while also investigating whether or not Pharaoh Akhenaten’s 17-year reign actually produced the Utopia for which he is credited.”
Starz will release the full 10-episode premiere of its original series Now Apocalypse across its NON-linear platforms, and will make the series premiere episode available for free on: Starz.com, Starz YouTube channel, Reddit and Pride Media platforms, including Pride.com, Out.com and Advocate.com.
“History Channel is to provide an authentic look at five family-run farms in the forthcoming The American Farm from BoBCat Studios, the multi-platform prodco founded by Thom Beers, Jeff Conroy and Sarah Bernard. The eight-part agricultural series will provide an intimate portrait into the lives of farming families as they feed both their loved ones and the nation’s population, all while navigating the daily challenges of farm management and agribusiness over the course of one full year. Shot on location across the U.S., The American Farm will feature the Boyd family, from Boyd Farms in Baskerville, Virginia; the Griggs family, from Griggs Farms in Humboldt, Tennessee; the Meyers family, from Meyers Farm in Bethel, Alaska; the Robertson family, from Bohanan Farm and Contoocook Creamery in Contoocook, New Hampshire; and the Sunderland family, from Sunder Creek Farm in Chester, Utah.”
From EW: “‘First of all, this is awesome.’
“That opening declaration from co-creator Mike Schur perfectly summed up the attitude for everyone in attendance at the Dolby Theatre for Thursday’s special — and emotional — 10-year anniversary Parks and Recreation reunion.
“Joining Schur for the PaleyFest panel, which was moderated by Parks guest-star Patton Oswalt, was the entire cast of Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Rashida Jones, Rob Lowe, Retta, Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott, Aubrey Plaza, Jim O’Heir, and Chris Pratt. Hell, even Perd Hapley (played by Jay Jackson) was on hand to open the event with a live news report. ‘Good evening, I’m coming to you tonight from where I’m standing, which is here,’ he said in classic Perd form. ‘The story of tonight’s event is that it is happening.’
“And plenty did happen, with the cast reminiscing about some of the most memorable moments, how Parks and Rec has blended into pop culture (see Fyre Fest), and whether they could get back together for more. So grab a plate of waffles and a bottle of Snake Juice and read on for some of the highlights:
Jerry/Garry/Larry/Terry still gets treated like Jerry
As the cast came out one by one, they took their seats and cheered on their costars. But, when Mike Schur was announced, he sat in the last remaining seat, which became a slight problem when Jim O’Heir walked out and discovered that he had no place to sit. The reactions from his castmates were spot on as Aziz Ansari laughed just as uncontrollably as Tom Haverford would have in the situation. O’Heir would eventually drag out his own chair from the back but it really delayed the start of the proceedings. Dammit, Jerry.
The emotional star
Ahead of the panel, Amy Poehler told EW that it was going to be “awesome” and “surreal” to be back together talking about the show with her former costars — and the emotions hit her early on. “I’m totally overwhelmed right now,” she admitted as she got choked up and came close to tears. She later said of playing Leslie Knope, “Leslie was really good for my physical and mental health. It really did extend my life, I think.”
Rob Lowe literally says literally a lot
During Thursday’s event, it was clear that Lowe literally brought something crucial to the character of Chris Traeger. Schur recalled his first meeting with Lowe about possibly joining the show and asking the West Wing alum about his involvement with the purchase of the entertainment company Miramaxthis link opens in a new tab. “Rob says, ‘I’ll tell you the story, I was literally on a yacht…’ Before that sentence, Chris Traeger didn’t exist. Then he said, ‘I was literally on a yacht’ and my mind went blank and then after that that was who Chris Traeger was.” Upon Lowe exiting the show in season 6, he says Schur gifted him the writer’s notes from after that first meeting. “I always wondered how much of Chris was me and how much of Chris was Mike,” shared Lowe. “And in your notes, it literally…there I go…it says, ‘He says literally all the time.'” Schur was right, as evidenced by the many times Lowe accidentally said it in casual conversation throughout the night.
Was Entertainment 720 behind Fyre Festival?
The internet isn’t alone in thinking that Fyre Festival was really something that could have been crafted up by Tom (Ansari) and Jean-Ralphio’s (Ben Schwartz) short-lived company. “It’s literally Entertainment 720,” said Ansari. “Tom and Jean-Ralphio were definitely buddies with [Fyre mastermind] Billy McFarland.” Added Schur, “They could have gotten Ja Rule.” But that’s not the only controversial story that Ansari thinks the Parks and Rec universe was behind. “The other day I was reading about the college admissions scandal and I was like that is some Eagleton sh– right there.”
Into the Pawnee-Verse
it’s not just pop culture that the show seemed to be ahead of the curve as Oswalt noted that Parks basically predicted the 2016 election. “If only we had Bobby Newport at the helm,” cracked Poehler of Paul Rudd’s Sweetums heir and City Council election opposition. The actress then recounted a story of someone asking her before the panel if we need Leslie more than ever right now. “I do feel like she’s kind of the Spider-Man of public service,” said Poehler. “It does feel a little bit like we’re looking up into the sky like, ‘Leslie, where are you?!'” She continued, “I kind of do wish she was around. But she wouldn’t be able to have any access to the White House [laughs].”
Chris Pratt manifested Jurassic World into existence
Pratt, now one of Hollywood’s stars, shared the story of how during an early season of Parks, he was asked to make a behind-the-scenes video, and when he got a text, he pretended it was from Steven Spielberg (“which was f—ing insane at the time”) and ended it by saying he’d get back to him about Jurassic Park 4. “And then like five years later,” said Pratt, who would eventually star in Jurassic World. “It’s not crazy,” declared Poehler. “It’s The Secret, you can manifest anything.” Pratt says the video is funnier than him telling it so enjoy below.
Galentine’s Day pride
This is the first full-fledged reunion since the show ended, but there’s always a smaller one at least once year when Poehler, Jones, and Plaza get together on Feb. 13 for Galentine’s Day, the holiday that Parks created. Schur says they take “a great deal of pride” in Galentine’s Day turning into something so popular — until it went too far. “Just this year it kind of bummed me out because like I’d go on Twitter and it would be like, ‘Hey ladies, this Galentine’s Day why not share a Mountain Dew Code Red?'” he revealed. “What does that have to do with Galentine’s Day? It was like appropriated by every brand and it kind of bummed me out.” Retta then interjected and declared, “Try walking into Target and all you see is Treat Yo’ Self.” She then brought up recently seeing a Treat Yo’ Self mug from Crate & Barrel. “It’s obnoxious,” she said of how Donna and Tom’s catchphrase has been monetized. “I was like what the f—? Crate and Barrel too? I mean, God bless.” Important — and awesome — note: Retta was wearing an epic dress that was covered in the words “Treat Yo’ Self.”
Rashida Jones’ opinion on Ann might start a fight
Schur says when creating Parks, he looked at Ann and Leslie’s friendship as the “core of the show,” which is why Jones departure in season 6 was the “saddest I ever got on set.” He said of her final episode before leaving, “It was the end of an era, and also because Rashida and Amy were very good friends in real life. If you look at the tape that was in that episode, it’s just two really good friends saying goodbye to each other. It was devastating.” But Schur also thinks that the best episode they’ve ever done was also centered on that relationship, pointing to season 3’s “The Fight,” which featured “the realest moments we’ve ever shot” with Ann and Leslie drunk fighting, not to mention Snake Juice, Burt Macklin, Janet Snakehole, and the epic drunk — and improv’d — dances from everyone in the cast.
And speaking of fights, Jones almost started one when she was talking about Leslie’s obsession with Ann and dared to say, “Ann is just like alright.” This prompted Poehler to respond in peak Leslie fashion: “I just want to say that if I ever hear you talk about Ann like that again….Ann’s perfect.”
Adam Scott now watches Game of Thrones — but he still doesn’t get Li’l Sebastian
In recent years, Scott has become even more like Ben Wyatt. While his attitude on Li’l Sebastian hasn’t changed (“I still don’t get it,” he jokes), his character’s next level Game of Thrones fandom has rubbed off on him. “After mentioning it a couple of times on the show, I started watching it and I could not be more into Game of Thrones.” That answer from Scott came in response to what he’s brought from his character into his real life, and for Pratt, it was something that would equally make Andy Dwyer proud. “My relationship with the FBI in real-life is legit,” he said in a hat tip to Dwyer’s alter-ego Burt Macklin. “Especially now I think they’re just really happy to have someone In the zeitgeist that’s like, ‘I love the FBI.’” So much so that they allegedly leave him care packages. Oh, and O’Heir, scoring the biggest laugh of the night, says in his case, “art and life kind of combined,” referencing the revelation that Jerry was very well-endowed.
Never say never to a reunion movie (but probably never)
In less of a highlight and more of like a sadlight, don’t get your hopes up for a reunion movie or reboot. “I think that in the world we live in now nothing is ever gone; everything comes back and is cycled through again,” shared Schur. “I would only say that I think everyone on this stage and like six other people would have to feel like there was a story that needed to be told. Part of what I felt personally is that the show had an argument to make…. I don’t feel like we left anything on the table. I feel like the show sort of made its argument.”
Schur also pointed to the show having jumped well into the future in the finale, which he jokes may have been a “preventive measure” against a follow-up. “There’s nothing I loved more than working on this show,” he continued. “It felt like the most important thing that I would ever do. And so I would never ever say never. The chance to do it again should it arise would be incredible, but I think that we would all only do it if we felt like it was something compelling us to do it. As tempting as it is, I don’t want to just make more episodes of the show or something. If one single person says no, then we wouldn’t do it — whatever that would be.”
The ultimate Ron Swanson goodbye gift
Well, even if the show never comes back, the cast will always have a special keepsake from it, courtesy of Offerman, who — without telling anyone — salvaged all of the doors from the set and made them into canoe paddles with the seal of Pawnee on them and gifted them to Schur and the cast. “It was perfectly good red oak,” deadpanned Offerman.”
Per The New York Post, “Gayle King is poised to sign a new multimillion-dollar contract to stay at CBS News.
“Insiders believe King — who already has a $5.5 million-a-year deal — is much needed on struggling CBS This Morning, as news chiefs attempt to boost the show’s plunging ratings.
“Meanwhile, all negotiations over whether her co-host Norah O’Donnell will replace Jeff Glor on CBS Evening News are on hold until King’s deal is signed, Page Six has learned.
“O’Donnell wants to move the show to Washington, DC, but we’re told: ‘Everything has gone very quiet. Nothing will be done until Gayle has signed her contract. It looks likely that she’s staying — but we don’t know what the holdup is.’ CBS News staff are on tenterhooks about the possibility of the Evening News”HQ moving to DC.
“‘Everyone is stressed — they want to know what’s happening,’ said an insider.
“King recently impressed with her much-lauded interview with R. Kelly. If she stays, King wants to know that CBS News president Susan Zirinsky will make This Morning more competitive, friends say.
“Asked if she’s staying, King told The Associated Press recently: ‘Ooh, that’s a good question. All I can say is I really love my job. And I think it’s kind of foolish to predict the future.’”
Per The Ringer, “[t]he blurred line between information and entertainment is arguably responsible for the current, highly distressed state of our democracy. The flip side of the entertainment-inflected news that currently dictates the president’s Twitter feed, however, is the wave of news-inflected entertainment that’s slowly remade audiences’ expectations for unscripted, or rather less conventionally scripted, programming. Jon Stewart’s incarnation of The Daily Show started the domino chain, using a news-shaped half-hour to parody the news in an uroboros of satire. Gradually, Stewart’s influence began to radiate outward, a brush fire with the 2016 election as its accelerant. Stephen Colbert made The Daily Show for punditry with The Colbert Report, then applied that experience to The Late Show; Samantha Bee infused Full Frontal with feminine rage; Seth Meyers may not have graduated from Stewart’s talent farm, but much of Late Night now carries his influence, as does the post-Meyers version of SNL’s Weekend Update.
“In recent years, this distinct category has grown an even narrower subgroup. The core idea remains in place: wrapping factoids in punch lines can make them more palatable, while giving them a more explicit point of view can make their biases more transparent. But rather than responding to a given news cycle’s headlines, these series prefer to choose their battles. They want to start a conversation, not join one. And because they’re deliberately choosing subjects that aren’t already on viewers’ minds, they take on the initial burden of introducing them to their audience. Call it the Explainer Show.
“The Explainer Show fulfills more or less the same purpose as a specialized news report or a PBS special, and as such is targeted at the demographic least likely to consume said show as part of their media diets: millennials. They’re collections of digestible, detailed-but-not-too-detailed looks at a broad range of fields, and they scratch two seemingly opposite itches at once: on the one hand, the comfort-food effect of tuning out the latest sign of the apocalypse; on the other, the nutrition of feeding your brain on a steady stream of trivia. Predictably, the genre has thrived on cable and streaming, following their viewership to new platforms. In between Sesame Street and the latest Ken Burns documentary, there’s the Explainer Show.
“The undisputed leader of this category, with three consecutive writing and series Emmys to show for it, is John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight. The weekly HBO series dedicates the first few minutes of its runtime to the news, but Last Week’s bread and butter is the supersized single-topic segment that takes up the back two-thirds or so of any given episode. Shrewdly, HBO consistently makes these diatribes available for free on YouTube, where they disseminate across the internet and into the wider culture. Despite their 15-to-25-minute length, practically feature-length by online standards, each one reliably gets a few million views, with the most popular reaching well into the eight figures.
“Initially, Oliver’s selections were deliberately obscure. Last Week’s first season, in 2014, included explorations of net neutrality and civil asset forfeiture, deliberately wonky subjects Oliver seemed to relish the challenge of making compelling to a general audience. Winking, attention-getting devices like a dog Supreme Court became staples of the show’s storytelling over time; the dog court is now a veritable menagerie, thanks to the addition of a lobster (to represent Neil Gorsuch) and Gritty (Brett Kavanaugh). Over time, Oliver has conceded to the pressures of topicality, and the show’s single most popular explainer remains its mid-campaign spotlight on one Donald J. Trump. Even if you aren’t one of the 35 million people who pressed play, you’ve probably heard ‘Drumpf’ used as an epithet.
“Still, the tone of Last Week Tonight remains one of helpful interjection. Oliver frequently uses status as a non-American to turn his focus to international issues, having dedicated no fewer than three full-length segments to the impending Brexit. The show’s latest episode-within-an-episode, a meditation on public shaming, took a heated debate and offered an unusually measured middle ground between “mob rule” and “Twitter is bad because it’s mean to me personally.” Even Oliver’s guest, Monica Lewinsky, came off as self-aware and willing to laugh at her own, deeply traumatic history. In its half-decade on the air, Last Week Tonight has become the model for subsequent Explainer Shows: in depth, wide focus, and as interested in familiarizing viewers with its subjects as commenting on them.
“With his Netflix show Patriot Act, fellow Daily Show alum Hasan Minhaj streamlined the format even further. The transition of late-night-style comedy to streaming, with its absence of time slots or commercial breaks, has been an awkward one; Netflix cancelled Michelle Wolf’s more traditionally styled The Break after just 10 episodes. Minhaj has succeeded by fitting his show into a template that’s already been proven to do well on the internet. Every episode of Patriot Act is essentially the part of Last Week Tonight that dependably goes viral, stripped of the extra bits. Averaging around 24 minutes apiece, Patriot Act installments have honed in on issues as specific as the streetwear brand Supreme and student-loan servicers.
“Like Oliver, Minhaj allows his background to inform his perspective, dedicating his most recent episode to Indian elections and opening the series with a bromide against a lawsuit challenging affirmative action led by a group of Asian Americans. (Jokes about Indian bidets and intrusive uncles are freely dispersed throughout even unrelated episodes.) In addition to dispensing with extraneous, perfunctory, and easily dated news banter, Patriot Act’s chief innovation is its stage, which takes Minhaj out from behind a static desk and allows him to roam around what’s basically a giant screen. The pilot pre-empted any potential clowning by describing the setup as a PowerPoint directed by Michael Bay, a self-inflicted own yet to be outdone by any would-be critics. So far, Patriot Act’s success indicates the Explainer Show is versatile enough to replicate and adapt beyond Oliver’s initial foray. Netflix may not disclose ratings, but its initial 30-plus episode order indicates a long-term investment.
“The third, and therefore trend-cementing, Explainer Show in recent months is Amazon’s This Giant Beast That Is the Global Economy, a mouthful of a title that encompasses a bevy of name-brand collaborators. This Giant Beast is executive produced by director Adam McKay and New Yorker economics correspondent Adam Davidson, and hosted by Kal Penn, the actor–turned–Obama aide–turned–viewer proxy who gets an education in knotty concepts like money laundering and counterfeit economies on our behalf. The show takes the explanatory device McKay pioneered with The Big Short—have celebrities sling SAT words at the camera—and turns it into a core premise, with Meghan Trainor and Patton Oswalt subbed in for Anthony Bourdain and Margot Robbie.
“But This Giant Beast lacks the tongue-in-cheek ‘isn’t it sad we have to sex this up so much to make it interesting’ element of The Big Short, and ultimately showcases some of the Explainer Show’s pitfalls. Even more than the typical infotainment comedy show, which can bring in correspondents or guests, the Explainer Show lives or dies on the host, who must be enough of an everyman to mirror the audience’s curiosity, but also engaging enough to relay his (and so far, it’s only his) findings. Amazon clearly spent handsomely on This Giant Beast, which globe-trots from Cyprus to Hong Kong to Washington, D.C., in its search for answers—which only puts more pressure on Penn as a grand unifier. Ultimately, he can’t quite sell the cutesy bits required by This Giant Beast’s highly stylized scenarios.
“The tighter and more knowledge-based its lens, the better the show is: How do you buy a house with ill-gotten cash? Why are counterfeits a bigger deal than some cheap bags? They’re simple questions with relatively simple answers, or at least ones that can be squeezed into an hour or less. Meanwhile, existential queries like ‘Are Rich People Dicks, Or Do Dicks Get Rich?’ and ‘Is Money Bullshit?’—the second and seventh episodes out of eight—inevitably yield an unsatisfying sample platter of pop psychology. Animating dry material in order to illustrate its complexities is one thing, reducing those complexities another.
“In between these celebrity-driven series, Netflix has also released the most literal-minded Explainer Show of all: Explained, a weekly series from the media company Vox rendering its signature style into a bigger, glossier package. Launched last spring, Explained eschews a host entirely in favor of a rotating cast of voice-overs, giving primacy to archival footage, expert interviews, and above all, the collective voice of the Vox brand. Jumping from astrology to cricket to diets to esports, Explained is both the simplest and broadest of the Explainer Shows. But the absence of a charismatic surrogate inadvertently shows that adapting one of the internet’s favorite formats to TV may require some concessions to its new home.
“At their best, Explainer Shows can mitigate the veneer of objectivity that marks the style’s biggest handicap, because they’re not presented as objective—they’re delivered as, and are, the point of view of a single person, bolstered by their writing and research staffs. Viewers go to them for mini-seminars because they like and trust that point of view. Meanwhile, shows like This Giant Beast and Explained elide huge assumptions about the subjective merits of capitalism or uncertain sciences like nutrition in their chipper CliffsNotes, which can’t slow down enough to allow for ambiguity. Then again, the Explainer Show already functions like a calming, constructive counterweight to the news. Letting in nuance, and the rancor that comes with it, risks spoiling the mood.”
Per The Washington Post, “[t]wo questions into Roseanne Barr’s packed appearance at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in late January, it happens: A reporter goes right for the Valerie Jarrett.
“Last May, Barr tweeted 11 words that managed to reference the Obama adviser, the science-fiction film Planet of the Apes and the Muslim Brotherhood. Within hours, ABC killed its most popular show of 2018. And Barr went from beloved sitcom star to spreader of hate.
‘You are a sorry excuse for a human being,’ actress Rita Moreno tweeted at the time.
“‘Roseanne made a choice. A racist one,’ added Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes.
“‘There is not any room in our society for racism or bigotry,’ tweeted civil rights icon and congressman John Lewis.
“Now, from the third row of the auditorium, Sagi Bin Nun of the news website Walla takes his own shot.
“‘Israel is the place where people ask to be forgiven by God,’ he says. ‘Would you like to take this opportunity to apologize for your racist tweet?’
“Boos rain down on Bin Nun, and some guy yells, ‘You’re a jerk.’ For two days, Barr has been telling anybody in Israel with a camera that she’s a ‘Jewy Jew,’ a warrior for their homeland and disgusted with ‘repulsive’ Natalie Portman and other so-called Hollywood hypocrites. During her two-week excursion to the Holy Land, she will pray at the Western Wall, tour the West Bank, huddle with government officials, serve on a panel with spoon-bending illusionist Uri Geller and, when she’s worn out, crash back at her suite at the Inbal Hotel.
“But right now, she can’t let Bin Nun go.
“‘You’re a mean person who just wants to insult people for no reason whatsoever,’ Barr says in front of everyone. ‘I pray to God to raise the sparks in you so that you’ll become a decent person.’
“What to make of this. It’s uncomfortable and entertaining and weird, particularly with Barr sitting between an Orthodox rabbi and the deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset. Last March, Barr was on the cusp of one of the great comebacks in television history. Twenty years after wrapping her groundbreaking sitcom Roseanne, Barr, 66, had signed to return with the entire cast. The reboot premiere reached more than 27 million viewers. Three days later, ABC renewed the revived Roseanne for another season.
“There was a problem, though: Barr had Twitter, and she wasn’t afraid to use it.
“Just after Christmas 2017, a few months before the reboot’s premiere, she tweeted: ‘i won’t be censored or silence chided or corrected and continue to work. I retire right now. I’ve had enough. bye!’
“The tweet did not slip by network brass.
“‘Sorry to bother you with this at the holiday, but wondering if you know what spurred this tweet from Roseanne,’ Channing Dungey, then ABC Entertainment Group president, wrote in an email to the show’s executive producer, Tom Werner, on Dec. 29.
“Thus began an unusual, behind-the-scenes battle, as ABC and Barr’s producers tried to protect their TV property, and Barr continued to speak out on Twitter, her preferred medium for pushing tales of Pizzagate and George Soros as well as profane blasts at TV personalities such as Stephen Colbert and Rachel Maddow. The network didn’t propose a no-tweet clause in Barr’s contact. Instead, as revealed by interviews with people close to the show and messages shown to The Washington Post, they spent months nudging her to stop while also trying to keep from offending her.
“‘It was always this back and forth of ABC not wanting to appear they were censoring Roseanne but also not quite pulling out the big guns,’ says James Moore, Barr’s longtime publicist. ‘Going, ‘You’re one tweet away from us canceling the show.’ Something that would jar Roseanne.’
“Despite repeated warnings — and even after her youngest son briefly hid her Twitter password — Barr stayed online.
“‘I admit it,’ she says, in her hotel room. ‘I’m a troll. I’m the queen of the f‑‑‑ing trolls.’
“By all accounts, Barr, whose 1990s network go-round had been surrounded by chaos — whether it was firings on the set, the Star-Spangled Banner debacle or that whole Tom Arnold thing — was a model citizen during the reboot, hugging audience members after tapings, hustling to news conferences and baking chocolate chip cookies for a get-to-know-you-again lunch with Disney Chairman Bob Iger.
“Online, though, she remained as polarizing as ever.
“This shouldn’t have surprised anyone. Comedy is full of misfits and oddballs obsessed with disruption. They roam stages, television sets and the Internet, teetering between the sort of shock that sparks deep reflection and that other kind, which leads to groans, backlash or, at worst, a public retraction.
“Wasn’t that President Trump’s bloody, rubber head that Kathy Griffin offered to the masses? Didn’t Samantha Bee call Ivanka a ‘feckless’ four-letter word that rhymes with bunt? And why did Trevor Noah make that joke about Aboriginal women? Of course, they apologized — or, in Griffin’s case, apologized and then retracted the apology — and were forgiven.
“Barr and her family contend there’s a simple reason she has been treated differently: her support of Trump.
“‘I’m not saying any of the others should be fired,’ says Jake Pentland, Barr’s 40-year-old son who runs her studio and voted for Bernie Sanders in 2016. ‘I’m a free speech absolutist. But you can pretty much say whatever you want as long as you supported Hillary Clinton. Soon as Mom donned that MAGA hat, she was an enemy.’
“As a comic, Barr has always ignored the typical standards of subversion. Her freewheeling attacks seem almost designed to rack up a list of enemies in high places. It’s as if she’s not just playing for laughs, she’s trying to blow up the entire system — even if that means blowing up herself.
“After the Jarrett tweet, daughter Jenny Pentland’s first words to her mother were to accuse her of self-sabotage.
“‘You did this on purpose,’ she told her.
“The pre-Internet Barr had been the most headline-grabbing comic of her time. At her 1990s peak, she blasted the women allegedly harassed by Sen. Bob Packwood, saying ‘they should have just kicked his balls in.’ In a sprawling New Yorker profile, she called Meryl Streep, Jodie Foster and Susan Sarandon ‘castrated females.’
“Her Twitter feed would go even further.
“In 2012, she tweeted the home address of George Zimmerman’s parents after the Trayvon Martin shooting. The Zimmermans sued, but the case was dismissed. As the 2016 election heated up, and she completed her shift from lefty agitator to Trump booster, Barr was distributing deep-state conspiracy theories like a UPS driver on Christmas Eve.
“‘Her tweets, before the one that got her in trouble, were absolute nonsense,’ says Doug Stanhope, a comedian and friend of Barr’s who had a bit part on the Roseanne reboot. ‘Zionist things, a Palestinian thing, none of it made sense. The idea that a network would give her a show . . . they had to know what they were getting into.’
“Whitney Cummings, the 2 Broke Girls co-creator and an executive producer for the reboot, says Barr was her “hero” back in the day. But she signed onto the show, she admits, without looking closely at Barr’s social media: ‘I had not gone through the years of past tweets, and that was my mistake.’
“Sara Gilbert, who was 13 when she starred in the first Roseanne and was a driving force with Werner in reviving the series, felt reassured about the reboot after talking with Barr. ‘I knew that Roseanne, the person, was unpredictable at times, but she told me this was her redemption,’ says Gilbert, now 44. ‘I chose to believe her.’
“It didn’t take long for Barr’s tweets to create tension within the show’s production team. In August 2017, Barr tweeted to defend Trump’s handling of the violent conflict in Charlottesville and attack the Antifa movement. Gilbert and Werner called Moore to set up a conference call. “I don’t want to talk about it — it will be gone,” Barr emailed Moore, before deleting the tweet.
“That fall, Gilbert and Werner set up a meeting with Barr and Kelly Bush Novak, the powerful press agent they had hired to represent the show. Novak, who had read an upcoming script involving the grandson’s curiosity about girl’s clothes, was concerned the plot would lead the LGBTQ community to examine Barr’s online comments.
“So Novak asked GLAAD, which had once lauded Barr as a champion of gay rights, to prepare a report called ‘Roseanne Barr’s Anti-Trans’ record. The private, 27-page document called her out for such acts as ‘Tweeted story that Obamas killed Joan Rivers for saying Michelle Obama is a tranny.’
“‘I said, “I’ve already apologized’’ Barr said, recounting the meeting with Novak. ‘And I did. Over days on Twitter. You know I understand that there’s a real serious issue with trans lives and trans rights for trans people. They want to be safe. But you know we tell our little girls to watch out for penises basically to stay safe. So what a mixed message this is. And I think it really needs more analysis and a lot more conversation, and I said that 400 f‑‑‑ing times.’
“Ultimately, there was only one way to keep Barr off Twitter. In December 2017, Buck Thomas, 23, the youngest of Barr’s five children, saw her phone open on the table and grabbed it. He reset her password and signed her out. He had grown weary of her online presence. ‘And I didn’t want her to get in trouble before the show even started.’
“In January, Barr complained about losing social-media access at a huge ABC press event. At some point, the badgering worked. Thomas turned over the password.
“A month later, Barr questioned whether the Parkland shooting survivors were actors. Co-showrunner and executive producer Bruce Helford texted Barr, suggesting she take her tweets down before ABC saw them.
“‘I’m really sorry to ever ask you to hold your voice,’ he wrote, ‘but I think there are even more powerful ways to put ideas out there through the show itself, which I hope we have the opportunity to do many, many more episodes of together.’
“Barr’s trip to Israel is a lot of things. A chance to return to a country that in previous visits has renewed her spirit. A way to raise awareness of what she views as the rise of anti-Semitism and the threat of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement. A paid-for vacation.
“She’s been brought here by Shmuley Boteach, who calls himself America’s Rabbi and runs the World Values Network, a New Jersey-based organization funded largely by the Trump-boosting, casino-owning billionaire Sheldon Adelson. Pentland, Barr’s daughter, views Boteach as one more in a line of men who cozy up to her mother to get attention.
“Barr considers Boteach a great friend. When ABC canceled her show and she was holed up in her mom’s basement in Utah, chain-smoking and in tears, it was Boteach — not her co-stars — who called to check on her.
“‘Shmuley saved my life,’ Barr says. ‘I was suicidal. He was the only person who stood by me and said they were going to destroy me because I love Trump and Israel.’
“Boteach also helped Barr deliver what remains the closest thing to a heartfelt apology. He recorded the raw exchange with her two days after the cancellation and aired it, a month later, as a podcast. Barr has never listened to it. On the call, she tries to explain herself. That she didn’t know Jarrett, the Obama adviser, was black. She just knew Jarrett had played a part in the Iran nuclear deal, which she hated. Few may believe her, but she insisted that she would have never used the Planet of the Apes reference if she had known Jarrett’s race.
“‘I’m a lot of things, a loud mouth and all that stuff,’ Barr said on the podcast. ‘But I’m not stupid, for God’s sake. I never would have wittingly called any black person, I never would have said, ‘They are a monkey.’ I just wouldn’t do that. And people think that I did that, it just kills me. I didn’t do that. And if they do think that, I’m just so sorry that I was unclear and stupid. I’m very sorry.’
“As she tells the story now, from a couch inside her hotel room, Barr is completely unguarded. She doesn’t have a publicist or an agent to watch over her. (ICM dropped her after the tweet.) With no makeup or jewelry on, she nibbles at a hummus plate as the Jerusalem sun descends over the eighth-floor balcony.
“She’s not an unreliable narrator so much as a complicated one. There are moments, now that it’s over, when she’ll insist she never had a chance. The lefty narcissists were always going to get her. There are other moments when she concedes she should have been smarter. Nobody wanted her on Twitter, not even her kids.
“She grew up in a family haunted by a generation wiped out by the Nazis. At 16, Barr was badly injured when she got hit by a car and, as a result, spent months in the state’s psychiatric hospital. As she found success, she didn’t hide her battles with mental illness. She revealed her multiple personality disorder, her compulsions with food, cutting herself and sex, and the years she spent in counseling.
“In 1988, Werner and Marcy Carsey, the producers behind The Cosby Show, brought her to ABC as Roseanne Conner, the central figure of a sitcom that included husband Dan (John Goodman), sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) and daughter Darlene (Sara Gilbert). The show went where other sitcoms hadn’t — into working-class Middle America. It rose to No. 1 on the way to a nine-year run.
“‘People forget how groundbreaking and how good that show was,’ says David Mandel, an executive producer on Veep and a former Seinfeld writer. ‘The notion of the house that wasn’t perfect and the multiple jobs and the factory line work. Things we had never seen before or in this exact way.’
“Roseanne was daring — not only for the famous lesbian kiss episode, but also for the honest way it portrayed gay characters. (Barr’s brother and sister are gay.) There was also the 1994 episode centered on her son’s refusal to kiss a girl in the school play because she was black.
“‘I didn’t raise you to be some little bigot,’ she snaps at D.J.
“Most sitcoms would have ended there, with the star as the hero. Except Roseanne adds a scene. A black man approaches her diner one night. Roseanne flips the door’s sign from open to closed. It isn’t until the man identifies himself — he’s the father of the girl D.J. wouldn’t kiss — that Roseanne lets him in. He tells her he’s not surprised her son is prejudiced.
“‘If he was a white guy with the exact same build in those exact same clothes, you would have done the exact same thing,’ sister Jackie says.
“‘Yeah, well, I’m glad one of us is sure,’ Roseanne responds, as the credits begin to roll.
“Barr had high hopes for the reboot when she signed on in early 2017. Her politics had shifted hard to Trump. But the country was deeply divided. The reboot would show that American families, like her own, could disagree politically without hating each other.
“The first episode, which premiered March 27, found Roseanne, a Trump supporter, re-connecting with Jackie, who wore a pink pussy hat and Nasty Woman T-shirt to dinner.
“Off screen, Barr’s politics were harder to resolve. At a January news conference in Los Angeles, reporters pressed Barr about Trump. She mostly deflected them. Then she took a question from Soraya Nadia McDonald of the Undefeated, an ESPN website.
“McDonald, a former Washington Post reporter who is African American, told Barr how much she appreciated as a child watching Roseanne Conner blast her son for refusing to kiss a black classmate. But wouldn’t that same Roseanne find ‘candidate Trump’s xenophobia or racism to be a disqualifying trait for the office of the presidency?’
“For Barr, already a conspiracy theorist, the message was clear. Everybody was in on it: ABC, the producers, even the press. They couldn’t sit idly as a Trump crazy took over their television sets.
“She felt betrayed in May when the ABC entertainment president, Dungey, in a conference call with reporters, said the next season of Roseanne would move away from politics.
“Who told her that? Barr had been planning to cast Luenell Campbell, an African American comedian and a good friend, and dig deeper into race.
“Helford, the co-showrunner and executive producer, was as baffled as Barr when Dungey talked about the show’s new direction. During Roseanne’s first run, Barr had considerable clout, forcing out the show’s co-creator, Matt Williams, only 13 episodes in. This time, she began to feel powerless. When she learned the writers were starting work on the reboot’s second season without her involvement, she thought, ‘Oh, they took my show.’
“Helford takes issue with that. ‘We didn’t do anything without consulting her,’ he says. ‘One of the agreements was that Tom, her, Sara Gilbert and I would work as a group and whoever had the best idea would be the one who would win. She was very much a part of everything we were doing.’
“That evening in May, while Barr was visiting her mother in Utah and feeling down about the show’s direction, she says she took an Ambien and dozed off next to her laptop. In the middle of the night, she woke up and saw a thread started by SGTreport, whose tag is ‘the corporate propaganda antidote.'‘ SGTreport referenced a WikiLeaks ‘bombshell,’ which would apparently reveal that the Obama CIA had been spying on the French government.
@MARS0411 responded by bringing up the Obama aide: “Jarrett helped hide a lot.”
It was 2:45 a.m. in Utah when Barr replied to the thread: “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”
“Barr has continuously repeated that she was comparing the movie to Iran’s repressive regime. But even she understands it’s a leap to interpret that from those 53 characters.
“That morning, people who didn’t know Barr slammed the tweet as racist. Her friends figured it was another perplexing online blast.
“In the morning, ABC held an emergency call with Barr, Werner and Disney/ABC Television Group President Ben Sherwood.
“Why did you do that? Sherwood asked her.
“‘I’m a comedian,’ Barr told him. ‘We step in s‑‑‑ all the time. I already took it down. What else can I do?’
“At 1:48 p.m., only hours later, ABC canceled Roseanne, after Iger called Jarrett to personally apologize. (Jarrett declined to speak to The Post.) In a statement that morning, Dungey called the tweet ‘abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.’ Werner would eventually negotiate a settlement with Barr — neither party will say for how much — so ABC could launch a spinoff. When the network announced The Conners on June 21, the release made sure to note that Barr would have ‘no financial or creative involvement.’
“That deal now infuriates Barr. She says Werner told her she would be a hero if she signed over her rights and saved so many jobs. He would go out and say Barr was not racist. She had even hoped to perhaps return to the show. Instead, The Conners killed off Roseanne with an opioid overdose in the first episode. And Werner remained virtually silent.
“She also can’t forgive Gilbert. On May 29, 27 minutes before ABC announced the cancellation, Gilbert tweeted that Barr’s comments were ‘abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show.’
“‘She destroyed the show and my life with that tweet,’ Barr says. ‘She will never get enough until she consumes my liver with a fine Chianti.’
“Gilbert, in a brief interview with The Post about Barr, said that ‘while I’m extremely disappointed and heartbroken over the dissolution of the original show, she will always be family, and I will always love Roseanne.’
“Like Gilbert, Werner reluctantly agreed to an interview with The Post after first declining several times. He said his focus has been on keeping the cast and crew working. He also acknowledged that, after the cancellation, distributors had briefly taken the show’s original nine seasons off the air, with deep financial implications for him and Barr. The original series is available again. ABC, though, has pulled the Roseanne reboot from all platforms. (Iger, Sherwood and Dungey declined interview requests.)
“‘The process has been difficult for me,’ Werner says. ‘I did not want the last note of the series to be such a sour one.’
“When asked about Barr’s complaint that he had not defended her, Werner said he has always found ‘her to be tolerant of others and inclusive.’
“‘It’s my belief that Roseanne is not a racist person,’ Werner said, ‘although I find the tweet to be repugnant and racist.’
“Goodman calls Barr’s tweet ‘stupid’ and ‘incoherent,’ but also says she isn’t racist. He believes that defending her will probably turn people against him. But he feels terrible for her. He texted her last May but didn’t press when she didn’t write back.
“Luenell, the comedian Barr planned to cast on the show, remains torn. Barr had been one of her supporters and heroes, someone who ‘represented hope’ for outsiders who didn’t fit into Hollywood culture. But she remains unhappy with how Barr handled herself after her tweet.
“‘The way she could have got some traction is if she immediately did a news conference and said, “I have f‑‑‑ed up. I am an idiot. I’m going to be seeing somebody to try to get myself together. I apologize to Valerie Jarrett. I apologize to the African American community and when you see me again, I’m going to be a more sensitive, responsible Roseanne.” If she said that, she might be able to chill and come back.’
“In Jerusalem, Barr meets with attorneys as she considers whether to sue ABC or Werner or everyone involved. She talks about an upcoming gig scheduled for Detroit and other potential projects, including a cartoon show and a Torah-themed program with Boteach.
“At the Begin Center, after scolding Bin Nun, Barr calls on another journalist: Jordana Miller, a local television correspondent.
“‘To be honest, I had kind of a spiritual question about what happened with ABC,’ Miller says. ‘Why, looking back, do you think this really happened?’
“You can feel the mood shift. Barr walks to the front of the stage.
“‘Oh my God,’ Barr says. ‘I’m so glad you asked that.’
“She launches into what will effectively be an eight-minute monologue. It’s May 29. She’s in Utah, so proud to tell her mother she’s back at No. 1. That night, she surfs around all this Iran stuff, goes to bed and wakes up to find that, as she puts it, ‘Roseanne said that black people look like monkeys.’
“She talks of pleading with ABC — to apologize, to get help, to do anything — and her voice cracks as she recounts how quickly they canceled Roseanne.
“‘I can’t believe that it takes them a year to get paper towels in the bathroom, but Disney in 40 minutes decided to fire me from my own creation,’ Barr says.
“But she doesn’t sound angry. She’s in control.
“I was so embarrassed in front of my mother, because she’s finally so proud of me that I was not married to any a‑‑hole. . . . You know. You know what I mean?’
“‘I know you’re all bored to death. I’ll end quick.’
“The story ends in her mother’s basement. She’s terrified that everybody hates her, of the paparazzi gathered outside, when a group of fans knock on the door.
“‘And they said, “We don’t think it’s right what they did to her. We know she’s not racist.” And they said, “Here’s some cookies.”’
“Barr chokes up again.
“It could be a cheery ending, the comic reconnecting with her fans. Except this is Roseanne Barr — and as soon as she returns to Los Angeles, she’s in the news again. Her Twitter remains off-limits. Daughters Jenny, 42, and Jessica Pentland, 44, each have part of the password so Barr can’t bully one of them into turning it over.
“So, Barr finds other outlets.
“In a self-made YouTube video posted Feb. 16, Barr calls Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) a ‘Farrakhan-loving . . . bug-eyed bitch.’ On a podcast hosted by Fox News commentator Candace Owens in early March, she calls the creators of the #MeToo movement “hos” and attacks Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford.
“On a Saturday night, just after the Owens podcast makes headlines, Barr is asked if there’s a part of her that ever considers quieting down, just for a few months, like everybody keeps telling her to. Wouldn’t that help? Wouldn’t that make things easier?
“‘I can’t,’ she says in a text message. ‘Do I look like the kind of woman who obeys?’”