‘Black-ish’ Creator Kenya Barris Looking To End Deal With ABC? | TV News


Signs of discord between ABC Studios and Black-ish creator (and Girls Trip writer) Kenya Barris have been forming for a while, and may be about to hit a point of no return. Trouble started when last month the network pulled an episode of the show where protagonist Dre Johnson addresses recent political issues with his son. At the time it was reported as a mutual decision, but THR reports that isn’t the case.


Although Barris signed a four-year deal with ABC in 2017, he’s now reportedly trying to get out of it, and perhaps looking to move to Netflix like his counterparts Shonda Rimes, who was also formerly under contract at ABC, and Ryan Murphy, who have both recently signed mammoth deals with the streaming giant.


It’s also been noted that there have been other issues between ABC and Barris outside of the recent episode controversy. Barris is frustrated that since signing with the network in 2015, only one other show of his has been picked up, and that was the spinoff, Grown-ish, which itself was pushed from ABC’s main channel to the younger-skewing Freeform channel instead.


The network has passed on other shows Barris has pitched such as the politically-themed comedy Libby and Malcolm starring Felicity Huffman and Courtney B. Vance, a pilot for a CIA drama starring Toni Collette titled Unit Zero, and although they gave a straight-to-series order for a comedy starring Alec Baldwin, he dropped out over script issues and the entire show was scrapped.


There’s also the strange choice made by the revival of Roseanne, which took shots at both Black-ish and another ABC comedy Fresh Off The Boat (though not directly by name), dismissing them as shows about black and Asian families that prove “they’re just like us”. It’s unclear if this is a part of Barris’ frustration with the network, but it’s an odd comment to include.


Whether Barris can get out of his contract or this issue can be smoothed out between both sides is unclear. What we do know is that Barris will have seen the kind of creative freedom and mega deals his contemporaries have gotten at Netflix, and will surely be targeting a similar package if possible. Netflix would be happy to have him on board, without a doubt.



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