LOS ANGELES: US television network ABC denied Sunday that it had canceled comedian Tim Allen’s popular sitcom “Last Man Standing” due to its conservative politics.
Fans of the show — and Allen himself — were angered when ABC announced in May that one of its most-watched scripted series, a solid ratings draw, was being brought to an end.
Allen’s character, an outspoken conservative, echoed the political positions of the 64-year-old actor, a Republican who attended President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The announcement sparked a firestorm of criticism on social media, with Allen tweeting that he had been “stunned and blindsided” by Disney-owned ABC’s decision.
Meanwhile a petition on Change.org that attracted more than 300,000 signatures claimed the comedy was canceled because it was the only entertainment program that was not constantly shoving “liberal ideals down the throats of the viewers.”
“Politics had absolutely nothing to do with it,” ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey told the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles.
“We have actors on our shows who have all sorts of political views. Tim Allen is a valuable part of the Disney family and has been for a very long time.”
She described “Last Man Standing” as a “high quality show” but added that the network had not been able to find room in the schedules for a seventh season.
A month before the cancellation Allen had spoken about Trump’s inauguration on late-night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” saying that he was “almost afraid” to say he had been at the event.
Dungey was addressing journalists as she introduced ABC’s segment at the TCA’s annual summer press tour in Beverly Hills, where journalists get to hear from television producers and stars about their upcoming seasons.
She spoke briefly about the upcoming “Roseanne” reboot starring comedian Roseanne Barr — another outspoken Trump supporter — and announced that it would ignore the death of Dan (John Goodman) in the last episode in 1997.
“I can confirm that Dan is still alive,” she said, but would not comment on whether other plot developments — such as Roseanne’s sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) revealing she was a lesbian — would be revived.
Asked if ABC was concerned about the forthright, partisan tone of Barr’s Twitter feed, Dungey said the actress was turning over her account to her son.
“I try to just worry about the things that I can control,” she added.
In a politically-flavored morning, ABC also showcased its new comedy “The Mayor,” from executive producers Jeremy Bronson (“Late Night with Jimmy Fallon”) and Grammy and Tony Award-winning Daveed Diggs, who originated the role of Thomas Jefferson in stage musical “Hamilton.”
The show, due to premiere on October 3, follows aspiring rapper Courtney Rose (Brandon Micheal Hall) who is struggling to get noticed.
He cooks up a publicity stunt — running for mayor in his hometown in California’s Bay Area to generate buzz for his music — but unexpectedly wins the election.
“I’ve always been a political junkie and a socially conscious type of person,” said Bronson, a producer for seven years with cable news network MSNBC.
He acknowledged the topicality of a show about an outsider unexpectedly winning an election, but said he wanted to do a show about community-level, grassroots empowerment.
“Given the politics of the past year everybody is a lot more focused on what they can do, what we can all do, to improve the country, improve our situations,” he said. AFP