Kenya Barris recalls the weeks-long battle with ABC and Disney over his shelved Black-ish episode
The Feb. 27 "Please, Baby, Please" episode was supposed to be special, shot with a bigger budget, featuring Spike Lee narration and expensive music. It would focus on Dre and his interpretation of real-world events presented to his son as a form of catharsis. But the network felt the episode was too political, too anti-Trump for a broadcast network. "I know there was some concern about partisanship," says Barris, "and the way the episode was angled and the balance in terms of some of the stories. On network TV, one of the things I've learned is that you have to talk about things from both sides." Barris tried to edit the episode to meet the demands of ABC and Disney executives. "What it ended up being, and I think the network would agree, was not a true representation of what we intended to do," he says. "Because if it was, we would've shown it." Ultimately, Barris and the executives mutually agreed to scrap the episode, which led to Barris seeking a way out of his ABC Studios contract. "He'd given his blood, sweat and tears to (the episode), which they had signed off on every step of the way — from the outline, to the script, to the table read, to the point where they actually spent the money and made the episode," says Anthony Anderson, who also serves as executive producer. "And I don't know what those conversations were, but we entered into this partnership with the understanding that we would be able to tell the stories that we wanted to tell."
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