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"Appalled" Network Ten takes Roseanne off air after racist tweet

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Australia’s Network Ten has dumped US sitcom Roseanne after star Roseanne Barr sparked outrage over a racist tweet.

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Barr likened a former adviser to president Barack Obama to an ape, prompting US network ABC to cancel her recently-revived hit sitcom and her Hollywood talent agency to dump her as a client.

Ten quickly followed suit, pulling the show off the air in Australia, despite having four episodes from the new series left to screen.

“Network Ten is appalled and disgusted with Ms Barr’s racist tweet and has removed Roseanne from TEN and ELEVEN, effective immediately,” a spokesperson said in a statement today.

Barr sparked a storm of controversy in the US overnight when she compared former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, who is African-American, to an ape.

“Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” Barr wrote on Twitter.

Barr later deleted the tweet and apologised for “making a bad joke about her politics and her looks”.

“I should have known better. Forgive me – my joke was in bad taste.”

But that didn’t stop broadcast giant ABC Entertainment from cancelling the show.

“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” president Channing Dungey said.

The “reboot” of Barr’s 1980s sitcom about a blue collar family, the Connors, returned to Australian screens in April, about a month after it hit screens in the US.

In America, Roseanne was one of the biggest ratings hits of the year and attracted an average audience of 18 million viewers.

While the new series wrapped up there last week, Ten had only aired the first five episodes in Australia and still had another four left to show.

The first episode that aired here on April 30 drew 463,000 viewers in metropolitan capital city areas, with subsequent episodes hovering around the 400,000 mark.

Last Sunday, OzTam said it had attracted 327,000 metro viewers.

Barr’s sitcom was a ratings hit when it originally screened between 1988 and 1997.

This time around, the three Connor children Becky, Darlene and DJ were all grown up and Roseanne was a supporter of US President Donald Trump.

US celebrities including Sara Gilbert, who played Darlene, joined in the condemnation directed towards Barr over her tweet about Ms Jarrett.

“Roseanne’s recent comments about Valerie Jarrett, and so much more, are abhorrent and do not reflect the beliefs of our cast and crew or anyone associated with our show. I am disappointed in her actions to say the least,” Gilbert tweeted.

Barr’s talent agency ICM Partners said it would no longer represent the star.

“We are all greatly distressed by the disgraceful and unacceptable tweet from Roseanne Barr this morning,” ICM said.

“What she wrote is antithetical to our core values, both as individuals and as an agency. Consequently, we have notified her that we will not represent her.”

Emma Kenney, who plays Gilbert’s on-screen daughter Harris, said soon after the ABC cancelled the show that she had been planning to leave the series because of Barr’s words.

“As I called my manager to quit working on Roseanne, I found out the show got cancelled,” Kenney wrote on Twitter. “Bullies do not win. Ever.”

Emmy-winning comedian and Roseanne consulting producer Wanda Sykes was the first prominent figure associated with the show to cut ranks, saying on Twitter she was quitting, hours after Barr’s comments.

– Reuters/AAP

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