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The Juicy Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'Roseanne'

Roseanne is widely considered one of the greatest TV sitcoms ever. Millions of Americans have watched the Conner family drama play out in living rooms across the country from 1988 to 1997, then again in a rebooted version starting in 2018. But even wilder drama was playing out behind the scenes - of both versions.

According to insider accounts, the backstage was plagued by Roseanne Barr's erratic behavior, instances of physical violence, a battle with a Seinfeld star, and Barr's train-wreck marriage to Tom Arnold. After the original Roseanne went off the air (following a final season that made no sense), the revived version was canceled after a few months due to a controversy over remarks Barr made on Twitter, and the series was restarted and renamed The Conners - without her.

The beloved comedy still serves up a heaping plate of drama alongside the laughs. These behind-the-scenes Roseanne stories are as funny as they are cringe-worthy.

 

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  • Barr Was Devastated When Her Ideas Were Credited To Someone Else

    Photo: Roseanne / FilmRise

    TV producer and writer Matt Williams was brought in to develop the show from Barr's original concept, which she had perfected in her trailblazing standup act. He observed her with her family, dissected her standup material, and built up characters and ideas to form a more cohesive show. But that's the job of a developer, not the creator. Understandably, Barr was outraged when she found out Williams was credited as the show's creator - something she only learned at the first episode viewing party. She was so upset she left the party in tears, and no one even noticed. Barr wrote in Vulture:

    It was at the premiere party when I learned that my stories and ideas - and the ideas of my sister and my first husband, Bill - had been stolen. The pilot was screened, and I saw the opening credits for the first time, which included this: CREATED BY MATT WILLIAMS. I was devastated and felt so betrayed that I stood up and left the party. Not one person noticed.

  • Fire Code Violations Shut Down The Set Before Filming Began

    Photo: Roseanne / FilmRise

    Call it an omen. That's the best explanation for the Roseanne set getting shut down before the pilot episode began filming. According to reports, the soundstage setup violated fire codes and was scrapped just as the cast and crew were about to start shooting. The situation turned out to be beneficial, as everyone received one more week to get comfortable with the script.

  • Williams Considered Removing Barr From Her Own Show

    Photo: Roseanne / FilmRise

    Still smarting from the news of Williams's creator credit, Barr worked tirelessly to have him stripped of the title. After encountering countless roadblocks, the actress banned all of the show's producers from the set. Williams pushed back and explored the idea of firing Barr and continuing the show without her, changing its focus to Dan (John Goodman) and Jackie (Laurie Metcalf). Allegedly, both Goodman and Metcalf wanted no part of a Roseanne without Barr. Williams was fired after the show's 13th episode.

  • Executives Gave Barr A Cheap Gift When The Show Hit Number One

    Photo: Roseanne / FilmRise

    When a show makes it to the number-one slot in the ratings, it calls for a celebration. Executives at ABC did celebrate Roseanne reaching number one... sort of. Instead of gifting Barr with a glitzy present suitable for the occasion, executives gave her a piece of chocolate. Yes, really. Barr wrote in New York magazine:

    ABC sent a chocolate "1" to congratulate me. Guess they figured that would keep the fat lady happy - or maybe they thought I hadn't heard (along with the world) that male stars with No. 1 shows were given Bentleys and Porsches. So me and George Clooney [who played Booker on the show] took my chocolate prize outside, where I snapped a picture of him hitting it with a baseball bat. I sent that to ABC.