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September 12, 2018

Black-ish, maybe, but not skittish.

Months after Disney and ABC controversially pulled an episode of the family sitcom, Black-ish creator Kenya Barris is divulging his weeks-long battle with the network over the spot.

It had previously been reported by Variety that the episode, which ABC scrapped in February, would have involved Anthony Anderson's character, Dre, reading a bedtime story to his son that takes a political turn and delves into topics like NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed these details, adding that the episode also would have combined animation with real footage of President Trump and the 2017 protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, and it would have featured narration from Spike Lee.

But in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, published Wednesday, Barris reveals that even though the episode had been fully shot, Disney CEO Bob Iger called him personally to talk about the studio's problems with it. There was some "concern about partisanship" among Disney executives, Barris told The Hollywood Reporter. Citing its own sources, The Hollywood Reporter adds that Iger and others feared the episode would alienate the Republican audience ABC was trying to court with Roseanne.

Barris says he attempted to make some edits at the behest of ABC. However, the two parties ultimately agreed that because so much of the episode was political it couldn't be suitably edited. Barris ultimately left ABC partially as a result of the snafu.

While Barris didn't criticize Iger in the interview, he did express frustration toward Disney-ABC Television Group President Ben Sherwood, saying Sherwood had led him to believe ABC would be an "open environment" but that didn't turn out to be the case. Read more about Barris' beef with ABC at The Hollywood Reporter. Brendan Morrow

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