Carol Burnett Reveals Why Sitcom Pilot Crashed

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.

1 Response

  1. I know it’s rare for a rejected pilot to find life on another network, but if Netflix wanted to get in business with Carol, how come they just didn’t pick up “Household Name”? No one wants this lame “Kids Say the Darndest Things” reboot.

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