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ABC Entertainment Chief on Pulled ‘Black-ish’ Episode and the ‘Roseanne’ Effect

Like every other network chief, ABC’s Channing Dungey was asked to weigh in on the impact of her network’s own smash hit, Roseanne.

And like nearly every other network chief, she opted not to wax on too emphatically about its impact on her new series orders. Instead, the ABC Entertainment chief noted that, due to Roseanne’s late-March premiere timing, the network’s pilots were already ordered and well underway by the time she and her team realized the hit they had on their hands. Going forward, however, Dungey acknowledged it would give her confidence to develop more multicamera comedies, an area in which ABC had not had the same success as some of its competitors before Roseanne.

The remainder of Dungey’s call with reporters ahead of ABC’s upfront presentation to media buyers Tuesday afternoon was laced with occasional queries on hot-button topics, including the personal politics of star Roseanne Barr and the recent, infamously pulled episode of Black-ish, titled “Bedtime Stories.” In her half-hour or so with the press, she also addressed the decision to cancel Fox’s newly revived Last Man Standing a year earlier, citing a struggle to come to deal terms with studio partner 20th Century Fox TV, and her network’s Kiefer Sutherland vehicle Designated Survivor. Of the latter, she stressed the show’s lagging same-day ratings, as well as its behind-the-scenes struggles, which included a revolving door of showrunners (four, with the network briefly in talks for a fifth). “Ultimately,” she said, “we were less confident about the [show’s] creative path forward than we were our other shows.”

Returning to the subject of Roseanne, which came up often, Dungey was asked to share her thoughts about the presumed dig at inclusive comedies Black-ish and Fresh off the Boat in a recent episode, which set off many in

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