The conners He made his official television debut on Tuesday without former franchise star Roseanne Barr, but executive producer Tom Werner does not regret the decision to have his character die of an overdose of opiates.
During a panel, also on Tuesday night, at the Paley Media Center in New York City moderated by Julie Jordan of PEOPLE, Werner explained that the story felt natural and "authentic" to the program's audience.
"I think it was important that we all be respectful to Roseanne Conner and Roseanne Barr, but as we talked about that … what made the show work for us is that we were playing subjects that were very relevant to our audience," he said. He told the crowd.
"There are many options on television, but this is a program about a working class family that is very identifiable to the audience," he continued. "When we talked about what to do to move forward … if you had seen the program in the last year, Roseanne Conner was fighting a drug. [addiction]. "
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Speaking of a scene in the program that Dan (John Goodman) had with the neighborhood drug trafficker, Marcy Bellinger (Mary Steenburgen), Werner explained that it was "very moving" due to the problems of the opioid crisis in the country.
"This is a problem, and once again, we are doing a comedy, this is a problem that affects tens of thousands of people, addiction to opiates, 80,000 people died last year due to an addiction and opioid overdose ", He said. "We feel that this is something that could illuminate."
"I think there will be people talking about this and how it affects the family," he continued. "Obviously, it affects the health problems and the fact that Marcy Bellinger was sharing medications with other people in the community, partly because we know that prescription drugs are expensive … I think this was an honest and authentic way to deal with Roseanne Conner. "
At the premiere on Tuesday, the Conner family addressed Barr's absence at the opening scene. While the family gathered in the kitchen lamenting the loss of "Granny Rose" three weeks after her death, a worried Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) asked to speak with Dan alone outside.
The family initially believes that he suffered a heart attack while asleep, but then discovered that Roseanne died of an overdose of opiates.
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Although the creators and producers of the program felt it was a good idea to kill their character in that way, Barr, however, was not so happy with his decision and expressed his thoughts in a long joint statement with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
Boteach, who advertises himself as "the rabbi of the United States," is best known for his high-profile connection with Michael Jackson, whom he served as spiritual advisor. He has also been connected to former reality star Jon Gosselin.
"While we wish the best for the cast and the production team of The conners, all of whom are deeply dedicated to their craft and were the dear colleagues of Roseanne, we regret that ABC has chosen to cancel Roseanne killing the character of Roseanne Conner, "the statement began.
"What was done through an opioid overdose lent an unnecessary somber and morbid dimension to a family show that would otherwise be happy." This was a choice that the network did not have to make. Roseanne "It was the only program on television that directly addressed the deep divisions that threatened the very fabric of our society," they continued.
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"Specifically, the program promoted the message that love and respect for the person should transcend differences in background and ideological discord. The show brought together people of different political beliefs and ethnic origins in a unified family, a rarity in modern American entertainment. "Above all, the show celebrated a strong, matriarchal woman in a leadership role, something we need more in our country."
"Through humor and a universally related main character, the show It represented a moment of weekly teaching for our nation. However, it is often an inexcusable error, but not unforgivable, that we can discover the most important lesson of all: forgiveness, "they wrote.
"After repeated and sincere apologies, the network was not willing to look beyond an unfortunate mistake, thus denying the twin American values of repentance and forgiveness. In a hyper-partisan climate, people sometimes make the mistake of speaking with words that do not really reflect who they are. However, it is the power of forgiveness that defines our humanity. "
"Our society needs to heal on many levels. What better way to heal than a shared moment, once a week, where we could all have enjoyed a compelling story with an ingenious character, a woman, with whom the United States connected, not in spite of its shortcomings, but because of from them. Cancellation of Roseanne it is a wasted opportunity due in equal parts to fear, to arrogance and to the refusal to forgive. "
Early in the night, during the episode broadcast, Barr tackled the death of his character in a simple but sarcastic tweet.
"I'M NOT DEAD, BITCHES !!!!" he wrote.
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In September, Barr said at the Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Podcast of the split, "I'm not going to curse you or bless you."
She continued, "I stay neutral, that's what I do, I stay neutral, I'm getting away from that, I do not want anyone and I do not want anything good for my enemies, I do not, I can not, I just stay neutral. what I have to do ".
Barr also said that she would be in Israel during the premiere.
"I have the opportunity to go to Israel for a few months and study with my favorite teachers there, and that's where I'll go and I'll probably move somewhere there and study with my favorite teachers," he said. "I've saved a few cents and I'm so lucky I can go."