EXCLUSIVE: One of the biggest comedies of the 1990s is making a comeback. I hear an eight-episode limited series revival of the hit ABC blue-collar family comedy Roseanne is in the works with the key cast members reprising their roles, including Roseanne Barr, John Goodman and Sara Gilbert, with Laurie Metcalf and others in the process of joining them.
The new installment is executive produced by the original series’ EPs Tom Werner, Barr and Bruce Helford as well as Gilbert and Whitney Cummings, with Helford and Cummings co-running. The project is currently in the marketplace, with multiple networks bidding, including original Roseanne home ABC, and Netflix, which has been staging reboots of classic sitcoms including Full House and One Day at a Time, along with new installments of cult favorites Arrested Development and Gilmore Girls.
Just like with the upcoming new season of Will & Grace — which considered a streaming play before closing a deal at NBC, where the original series had aired — ABC is considered the sentimental choice to air the new Roseanne episodes.
Roseanne remains a gold standard for its realistic portrayal of a working-class American family. It centered on the Conners, who lived, barely scraping by, in the fictional town of Lanford, IL. The revival comes as networks, and particularly ABC, are making a concerted effort to better reflect the lives of everyday Americans.
I hear the intent is for all principal Roseanne actors to appear in some capacity in the reboot, including The Big Bang Theory star Johnny Galecki.
Like NBC’s Will & Grace‘s comeback, which was triggered by a short, election-themed reunion video the stars of the series made last fall, Goodman and Gilbert also recently staged a mini-Roseanne revival in a video filmed during Goodman’s visit to CBS’ The Talk, which Gilbert created, co-hosts and executive produces. (You can watch it below.)
During Goodman’s interview, he was enthusiastic about doing a Roseanne reboot. “Oh, hell yes … if we could get everyone together,” he told co-host Julie Chen. “The Big R [Barr] and I did a pilot about five years ago that didn’t go anywhere … but we were very happy to work together.”
Gilbert was more cautious when asked if she would do a reboot. “I would,” she said. “Your only fear is you don’t want to do a bad version, because you don’t want to damage what’s been done.”
Roseanne, produced by indie Carsey-Werner, was a big ratings hit and ran for nine seasons on ABC. May 20 will mark the 20th anniversary of the Roseanne series finale, which drew 16 million viewers. The family sitcom earned Emmy nominations for Barr, Goodman, Metcalf and Gilbert, with Barr winning one statuette and Metcalf three.
On her website in 2009, Barr gave her detailed take on where each of the main characters from the show would be in a possible Roseanne revival: Roseanne and Jackie opening the first medical marijuana dispensary in Lanford; Dan reappearing alive after faking his death; DJ being published; Mark dying in Iraq; David leaving Darlene for a woman half his age; Darlene coming out, meeting a woman and having a baby with her; Becky working at Walmart; Arnie befriending the governor of Illinois and remarrying Nancy; Bev selling a painting for $10,000; Jerry and the grandsons forming a boy band; and Bonnie being arrested for selling crack.
In addition to Will & Grace, Arrested Development and Gilmore Girls, other TV series from the last two decades that have gotten a revival with some or all of the original casts include The X-Files, Prison Break and 24 (with Live Anther Day) on Fox, and Heroes on NBC.