Last February Channing Dungey was announced as the new president of the ABC Entertainment Group. Dungey’s promotion made her the first African-American person to be president of a major broadcast network.
And she’s wasted no time putting her stamp on the venerable TV network and stepping into the line of fire.
She made headlines a few months ago when outlets reported that ABC permanently shelved an already-shot episode of Black-ishcalled “Please, Baby, Please,” in which the Johnson family addresses the controversy with Colin Kaepernick, the NFL and the National Anthem. The show’s creator Kenya Barris released a statement saying that they both opted not to air the show, but rumors swirled that the network had its foot on Barris’ neck regarding the episode’s controversial topic.
During a call with reporters two weeks ago to discuss ABC’s new season, Channing Dungey addressed the topic head on:
“As you know, we’ve long been supportive of Kenya and his team tackling challenging and controversial issues in the show; and we’ve always, traditionally, been able to come to a place creatively where we felt good about the story that he was telling even if it felt like it was pushing some hot buttons, and he felt that he was getting to share the story in the way it should be shared,” she said.
“With this particular episode, there were a number of different elements to the episode that we had a hard time coming to terms on. Much has been made about the kneeling part of it, which was not even really the issue, but I don’t want to get into that. At the end of the day, this was a mutual decision between Kenya and the network to not put the episode out.”
But it was her defense of the controversial reboot of Roseanne that had many wondering what direction the network would take.
Dungey also said she was a “a little bit surprised” when people were offended by the Roseanne show discussing two shows with minority-centered comedies, Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat.
During the episode in question Dan Conner referenced fellow ABC sitcoms Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat and said: “We missed all the shows about black and Asian families,” Dan said. Roseanne responded dismissively: “They’re just like us. There, now you’re all caught up.”
That wisecrack, many said, was making light of the multicultural shows and the issues that are unique to minorities. Roseanne’s dig at the shows didn’t sit well with many, but Dungey maintains that its intent wasn’t to offend.
“We thought that the writers were simply tipping their hat to those shows,” Dungey said to reporters. “That said, I do stand by the Roseanne writers in terms of the decision to include that line. They felt that they were expressing the point of view of the Conners in what they would actually have said.” When a reporter asked if she had any concerns about how Barr’s own personal politics color the way the comedy is perceived, she responded: “I do think that there’s a little bit of that, yes.”
But things took a turn for the messy this morning.
“muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” Barr tweeted in response to a post about Jarrett.
Barr attacked Jarrett, an African American woman who was born in Iran, in response to an article which unsubstantiated claims that former President Obama spied on the President of France. Barr’s Muslim comment toward Jarrett follows the thought process of conservatives who tried to unsuccessfully assert that Jarrett was behind a secret push to make America a “more Islamic country.” According to the fact-checking website, Snopes, that claim is “false.”
Barr took to Twitter to apologize for the smear saying, “I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me-my joke was in bad taste.” She says she plans to now leave Twitter (one can only hope for good), saying:
“It’s a joke,” she wrote in response to a CNN reporter.
Well, apparently ABC didn’t find her joke funny and has pulled the plug on “Roseanne!”
“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey said in a statement.
Here’s five things to know about Channing Dungey:
- She’s a winner
According to ABC, Dungey has successfully launched the No. 1 new drama on television and the No. 1 freshman show overall in Adults 18-49 in the 2017-18 season, “The Good Doctor.” Dungey is also responsible for the return of “American Idol” with host Ryan Seacrest and superstar judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, which currently ranks No. 1 during its two-hour Sunday time slot.
2. She doesn’t shy away from scandal
Previously, Channing Dungey was executive vice president, Drama Development, Movies & Miniseries, ABC Entertainment Group. In this position, she oversaw the development and production of all drama pilots, movies and miniseries, and the launch of new series for ABC Entertainment. Series she developed and launched include “Scandal,” “Quantico,” “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “American Crime” and “Once Upon a Time.”
3. She’s the force behind some of our favorite films
Channing Dungey has also supervised a diverse range of critically acclaimed films, including “Rosewood,” “Space Jam” and “Practical Magic.”
4. She’s got a solid foundation
Dungey, who graduated magna cum laude from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, is a visiting professor at the school and serves on the school’s executive board.
5. She gives back to the community
Dungey is also a founding member of Step Up, a national nonprofit membership organization dedicated to helping girls living in under-resourced communities to fulfill their educational potential. Dungey is a Los Angeles member of BAFTA and serves on the Board of the Motion Picture Television Fund.