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When ABC announced its 2020-21 schedule in June, the seventh season of Black-ish was slated to be part of the midseason launch.
A day later, the network changed course and put the comedy back into the mix for fall. Series creator Kenya Barris and stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross pressed ABC Entertainment head Karey Burke for the change, they said, and they credit her for listening to their arguments.
Although the schedule was announced in mid-June, some three weeks after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked nationwide racial and social justice protests, Barris told reporters on a press call Tuesday that it had been largely set prior to that.
“The choice was made before all this happened,” Barris said, referring to the protest movement, “and it had a lot to do with previous schedule commitments. She took the information that was given to her and made a change. I really appreciate that she did that.”
Given the show’s willingness to take on race and politics, Anderson said it was “problematic” for him to see Black-ish held until 2021.
“I thought it would be doing a disservice to our audience and to our show to have our voices muted and not have the show come back until midseason,” he said. “That was my conversation with the powers that be, and everyone came to an accord.”
ABC is also set to air two special election-themed episodes of Black-ish Sunday night, one of which is the show’s first fully animated installment (it has featured animated segments a number of times in the past). Barris said the two episodes, both directed by Oscar winner Matthew A. Cherry (Hair Love), were initially seen as a way to have a “presence” for the show in the fall. Showrunner Courtney Lilly, however, noted that the move back onto the fall schedule created something of a time crunch.
“There were about 24 hours where we weren’t on the fall schedule, and it was ‘OK, at least we’ve got this,” Lilly said. “Then it was, ‘We’re back on, and we’ve got these specials? Its gonna be animated, and it’s on in October?’ But the whole team came together in a great way.”
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