In Ending ‘Roseanne,’ ABC Executive Makes Her Voice Heard
By Brooks Barnes
LOS ANGELES — In the two years since Channing Dungey took over as president of ABC Entertainment, becoming the first black executive to run a major network, she had largely eschewed the spotlight, avoiding public comments whenever possible and preferring that her work speak for itself.
She has certainly made her voice heard now.
Ms. Dungey on Tuesday announced the firing of Roseanne Barr, one of ABC’s most important stars, after the incendiary comedian posted a racist tweet about Valerie Jarrett, a former top adviser to President Barack Obama.
“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” Ms. Dungey said in a statement.
Ms. Dungey did not make the decision alone. Her boss, Ben Sherwood, president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, and his boss, Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, also backed the cancellation of “Roseanne,” which returned with monster ratings in March after concluding its initial run in 1997.
But it was striking that it was Ms. Dungey and not one of her superiors — and not a network spokesman or spokeswoman, to whom such statements are often attributed — who condemned Ms. Barr and declared the end of “Roseanne.” Ms. Dungey, 49, became an instant celebrity, her name trending on Twitter as people rushed to express gratitude for her stand and holding her up as an example of why diversity in Hollywood’s highest ranks is important.
Stars like Viola Davis, who headlines the ABC drama “How to Get Away With Murder,” and Tony Goldwyn, who appeared on the ABC series “Scandal,” offered their applause. Krista Vernoff, a producer of “Grey’s Anatomy,” the long-running ABC medical drama, said in a Twitter post, “THANK YOU Channing Dungey for being my one little slice of hope for our country today.”