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Roseanne Barr blames racist tweet on sleeping pills and apologises to crew after sitcom's cancellation

'Guys I did something unforgiveable... It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting'

Chris Baynes
Friday 01 June 2018 17:00 BST
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Roseanne Barr blamed sleeping pills for a racist rant that led to the cancellation of her TV series, as she apologised to the hundreds of staff who “lost their jobs on my show due to my stupid tweet”.

The comedian claimed she was “Ambien-tweeting”, referring to a brand of sedative, in the early hours of the morning, when she compared black former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett to an ape.

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

The post prompted US network ABC to cancel her sitcom, Roseanne, which had returned for a 10th series earlier this year, two decades after its original run.

The star's talent agency also dumped her as a client.

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

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

Addressing her fans, she later wrote: “Guys I did something unforgiveable so do not defend me. It was 2 in the morning and I was ambien tweeting... went 2 far & do not want it defended. Not giving excuses for what I did (tweeted) but I’ve done weird stuff while on ambien”.

Barr also apologised to colleagues on the show, which the 65-year-old actress and co-star John Goodman reportedly earned about $250,000 (£190,000) per episode.

Other networks also began pulling repeats of the sitcom.

“I just want to apologise to the hundreds of people, and wonderful writers (all liberal) and talented actors who lost their jobs on my show due to my stupid tweet,” she wrote.

She had earlier been condemned by members of the sitcom’s cast.

Sara Gilbert, who played her on-screen daughter Darlene, wrote: “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.

“This is incredibly sad and difficult for all of us, as we’ve created a show that we believe in, are proud of, and that audiences love – one that is separate and apart from the opinions and words of one cast member.”

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Producer and comedian Wanda Sykes had already quit the show over Barr’s comments before it was cancelled and another co-star, Emma Kenney, revealed she was ready to leave in protest.

Announcing the decision to cancel the series, ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey said: “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”

Shonda Rhimes, the creator of ABC shows Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, tweeted: “Thank you, Channing. #justice.”

She added: “The terrible part is all of the talented innocent people who worked on that show now suffer because of this. #notjustice. But honestly she got what she deserved. As I tell my 4 year old, one makes a choice with one’s actions. Roseanne made a choice. A racist one. ABC made a choice. A human one.”

The return of Roseanne was watched by an estimated 18.4 million viewers in the US and prompted Donald Trump to phone Barr to congratulate her.

The series, which focuses on a blue-collar family, the Connors, was a ratings hit when it was first broadcast between 1998 and 1997.

Responding to a fan on Twitter, Barr said she believed the show was axed because of a threatened boycott by advertisers.

Addressing supporters, she wrote: “hey guys, don’t defend me, it’s sweet of you 2 try, but... losing my show is 0 compared 2 being labelled a racist over one tweet- that I regret even more.”

Barr told fans not to “start all of that boycott abc stuff”, although she also thanked them and retweeted posts criticising the network.

“I’m tired of being attacked & belittled more than other comedians who have said worse,” she added.​

Ms Jarrett is yet to respond to Barr’s apology on Twitter, but told MSNBC: “I’m fine. I’m worried about the people out there who don’t have a circle of friends and followers who come right to their defence.”

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