Fans of legendary funnylady Carol Burnett (b. 1933) were elated last year when it appeared that she would return to scripted comedy in the form of a sitcom pilot for ABC — but had our hopes dashed when it turned out the pilot was never picked up.
Instead, a reboot of Roseanne made the grade.
Now, Burnett is speaking out about what in the hay-ull happened, Mama!
Deadline reports Burnett, speaking to The New York Post, said:
The pilot was very funny and the audience and everyone seemed to think “whee!” Then the network wanted to recast a couple of main parts … and wanted Michael Saltzman to add extra stuff they thought was funny — more of the family stuff and less of the oddball situation we were in.
She read the script Saltzman cooked up, but was not enthused, telling him politely:
Michael, it’s not your fault. The original pilot was better, more fun… I don’t want to do it.
Burnett also recalled how different things were she was doing her popular variety series, The Carol Burnett Show (1967-1978):
They never even asked to see a script. [CBS founder] Mr. [William S.] Paley [1901-1990] always said, "Here’s the show, go do it. You’re the artist, go have fun and if it works and gets ratings we’ll renew you." So with [the pilot] I thought I had it so good that, at this time of my life, do I want to face a bunch of network or advertising people who want to make their opinions known? I just don’t want to be around that.
More power to Carol, and — please — less power to the schmucks at ABC who robbed us of what might've been a blast.
An extremely unexciting-sounding series Burnett is doing instead debuts May 4 on Netflix — A Little Help with Carol Burnett features the comic interacting with small children, who give advice to adults. Ick.