The Media Notepad: “Roseanne” to return as “The Conners” – without Roseanne

(ABC/Greg Gayne)

Springer officially canceled

Also: Eddie Olczyk joins Kap and Co.; Disney boosts bid for Fox to $71 billion

Welcome back to the family: to replace the canceled ABC sitcom Roseanne, ABC has ordered a ten episode straight-to-series spinoff with the working title The Conner Family, though more likely, The Conners. The series is to star everyone involved in Roseanne with the exception of Roseanne Barr, who was fired from the show last month after she sent several racist and anti-Semitic tweets. It was the first time a network canceled a show under those kind of circumstances – despite the revival of the 1988-97 series ranking as the top-rated scripted program of the 2017-18 season.

“The Conners’ stories demonstrate that families can always find common ground through conversation, laughter and love,” ABC said in a statement. “The spinoff will continue to portray contemporary issues that are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago. [The Conners are] forced to face the daily struggles of life in Lanford in a way they never have before” following “a sudden turn of events.” It was not revealed how the show would deal with Roseanne Conner’s exit.

In the same press release, ABC made sure Barr would not be involved in any way or profit financially from the new show. For ABC, the pickup fills a hole on Tuesday nights where Roseanne would have aired.

This isn’t the first time a series has continue sans its star – Valerie Harper left NBC sitcom Valerie in 1987 after a pay dispute with Lorimar-Telepictures and the series continued as The Hogan Family for three more seasons on NBC and another on CBS (like Roseanne, The Hogan Family was also set in a Chicago suburb, the real-life Oak Park.) In 2003, the death of lead character John Ritter forced changes in the format of 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter, later becoming 8 Simple Rues. It ran on ABC until 2005.


A “Springer” billboard near 94th/Stony Island.

The news of Jerry Springer’s “production hiatus” has indeed become permanent.

After confusion about the show’s future, NBCUniversal Television Distribution announced Thursday it has officially canceled The Jerry Springer Show after a 27-season run, according to Programming Insider.

Broadcasting & Cable reported on June 13 about Springer’s show stopping production with reruns heading to The CW to replace the canceled Robert Irvine Show and would also stay in syndication in reruns. The CW would also have the option to put the series back into production if they wanted to.

But on June 16, Cincinnati media blogger John Kiesewetter noted the talk show would exit My Network TV affiliate WSTR, who carried the series locally in the Cincinnati market – meaning the show would no longer air on any non-CW affiliates, including WCIU or sister station The U Too, Springer’s current Chicago rightsholder.

A full week later, the AP picked up the story, noting Springer was ending production but was sold in reruns to the CW and “other networks”. NBC Universal added to the confusion with them and Springer refusing comment.

Now NBC Universal makes it official, and it is unlikely The CW would pick up an option to produce new episodes.

As you would guessed, the decision to end production didn’t really generate much attention, aside from a Richard Roeper piece in the Sun-Times Tuesday. Last Friday, this blog detailed the legacy (if you can call it that) Jerry Springer left on TV and society.

So I guess the madness does ends here. Can we move on to something else?


Bob Iger and the Mouse. (Getty Images)

The war is on: Disney announced this week it has raised its offer to buy much of the 21st Century Fox studio to $71.3 billion, nearly $20 billion more than it originally proposed for the company. This comes as Comcast tried to outbid Disney by sending Rupert Murdoch a $65 billion, all-cash offer.

Comcast has stated it would sell Fox’s regional sports networks should they win. Thru NBC Sports Group, Comcast runs several RSNs including NBC Sports Chicago, home of the Cubs, White Sox, Blackhawks, and Bulls. The sale could also potentially affect plans for the Cubs to start their own sports network if they are looking for an RSN partner. The New York Yankees’ YES Network is 49 percent owned by Fox, and the team has expressed in re-acquiring the 51 percent it does not own.

Comcast would also wind up with a majority stake in streaming service Hulu, although it is not known Comcast would sell it off.

Bidding wars for media properties aren’t new: when Viacom planned to buy Paramount Communications in 1993, it had to fight off a bid from shopping giant QVC, then headed by former Fox executive Barry Diller. The bid wasn’t successful, and Viacom won in the end – but it took months.

The war over Fox is taking place as a judge recently OK’d a deal between AT&T and TimeWarner rejecting the Justice Department’s concerns as the transaction closed on June 16. With the deal, TimeWarner has changed its name to WarnerMedia – which makes sense given the Time Inc. portion of TimeWarner was spun off years ago (the magazine conglomerate was recently purchased by Meredith Corp.)

As we say in this business, “stay tuned”.


Eddie Olczyk. (USA Today)

In news first reported by Robert Feder last Tuesday, current Blackhawks and NBC on NHL commentator Eddie Olczyk is expanding his presence into sports talk radio: last week, he joined David Kaplan’s Kap and Co., where he’ll be a regular co-host on Mondays and Fridays from 9 to noon on ESPN-owned WMVP-AM (ESPN 1000.) Olczyk joins regular rotating contributors Jordan Cornette and Pat Boyle.

The 51 year-old former Blackhawk played with the team from 1984-87 and again from 1998-2000, and was part of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Hockey team. As you may be aware, Olczyk spent time away from the booth this season due to treatments for colon cancer. He announced in March the cancer was in remission and returned to job full-time with NBC Sports covering the Stanley Cup Final and Triple Crown, including the Kentucky Derby (Olczyk is also a horse racing expert.)

“I would like to just say that this has been the best medicine I’ve had in a long time, getting back to hockey and horse racing after my battle with Stage 3 colon cancer.”, Olczyk told Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune.

And we fans are more than fortunate to have a talented broadcaster like Eddie Olczyk around.

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