Roseanne Barr was a living nightmare for the cast and crew on the set of her short-lived talk show, The Roseanne Show, a source reveals exclusively in the new issue of Us Weekly.
Back in 1997, Michael and Roger King of King World Productions were looking to expand their TV empire. They set their sights on Barr, now 65, who had just wrapped up the series finale of Roseanne’s original run. The Kings had to overlook a few red flags along the way, though.
“As part of her contract, Roseanne demanded that the King brothers buy her a house in Lake Arrowhead, on top of her $5 million yearly salary,” the source, who worked behind the scenes on The Roseanne Show, tells Us. “The brothers thought this was outrageous, but wanted to keep Roseanne happy, so they agreed.”
Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold together
Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold together
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 10: Roseanne Barr with Tom Arnold (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 05: Roseanne Barr and boyfriend Tom Arnold. (Photo by John Roca/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Comedians Tom Arnold and Roseanne Barr. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
American actress and comedia Roseanne Barr with her husband, actor Tom Arnold, circa 1990. (Photo by Kypros/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Air Date 07/20/1990 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Tom Arnold with wife actress Roseanne Barr during an interview with host Johnny Carson on July 20, 1990 (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Tom Arnold & Roseanne Barr during 1991 MTV Rock 'n Jock Softball in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 13 -- Pictured: (l-r) Tom Arnold, Roseanne Barr, Jan Hooks as Sally Jessy Raphael during 'Sally' skit on February 16, 1991 -- (Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - 1992: American actress and comedian Roseanne Barr walks with husband American actor and comedian Tom Arnold circa 1992 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Davis/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - 1992: American actress and comedian Roseanne Barr and husband American actor and comedian Tom Arnold walk by shops circa 1992 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Davis/Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 14 -- Pictured: (l-r) Tom Arnold, Roseanne Arnold Barr during the monologue on February 22, 1992 -- Photo by: Al Levine/NBCU Photo Bank
Roseanne Barr & Tom Arnold during 1992 HBO's Comic Relief in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 01: Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold (Photo by The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 29: American actress and comedian Roseanne Barr and husband American actor and comedian Tom Arnold wave to people during the 61st Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade on November 29, 1992 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Ron Davis/Getty Images)
Richard Pryor, Roseanne Barr-Arnold, and Tom Arnold (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 02: ROSEANNE - 'Friends & Relatives' 9/25/90 Roseanne Barr, Tom Arnold (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 02: ROSEANNE - 'Friends & Relatives' 9/25/90 Tom Arnold, Roseanne Barr (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 07: ROSEANNE - 'Gallery' 1991 Tom Arnold, Sandra Bernhard, John Goodman, Roseanne Barr (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
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The syndicated show premiered in September 1998. But the jubilant mood on set didn’t last once negative reviews began coming in. Barr blamed everybody but herself for the program’s missteps, the source recalls.
“It wouldn’t be unusual for Roseanne to call one department, swearing about the crew and lack of support from the King brothers, and demeaning the work that was trying to be done to give her positive press,” the insider tells Us, noting that the host would often cancel interviews last-minute and refuse to be photographed by major news outlets.
The alleged verbal abuse only got worse. Barr began “leaving minutes-long messages at all hours of the night,” the source says. “She would tell us the infomercial she was watching was better than her show and that we were ruining her life.”
Eventually, The Roseanne Show came to an end. It aired its final episode in June 2000 to little fanfare.
Nearly 20 years later, the comedian found herself in hot water again when she called former Barack Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett the child of “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes” in a since-deleted tweet. She apologized after facing backlash, but it was too late. ABC canceled the reboot of Roseanne on May 29 despite rave reviews about the first season. Barr later claimed that she had been “ambien tweeting.”
For more on Barr’s tweetstorm and behavior on past shows, pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now.