AceShowbiz - "Black-ish" creator Kenya Barris has opened up about his decision to leave ABC for Netflix. In a new Hollywood Reporter profile, the NAACP Image Award-winning writer finally confirms that it was a cut "Black-ish" episode that prompted his decision left his four-year contract with the network to join the streaming giant.
The episode in question, titled "Please, Baby, Please", was supposed to air February 29. It brought up the NFL kneeling protests and reportedly would also feature news footage of President Donald Trump and the Charlottesville attacks.
But the said episode, featuring Spike Lee as a narrator, was suddenly shelved, just days before its scheduled air date. The network reportedly pulled the episode in fear of "alienating" the red-state viewership, which they've been courting since Trump's win, as well as a fear of provoking Trump himself during Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets.
"I know there was some concern about partisanship," Barris acknowledges, "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."
Still, the 44-year-old writer calls many of Disney execs as "family," and praises Disney CEO Bob Iger for expertly handling him during the episode. "The boss doesn't have to explain himself, but he explained enough - and he [did so] in a way that really gave light in a different way. And more than that, he spoke to me as a person," Barris shares.
He continues, "The way that [Iger] chose to deal with me in this particular episode, I felt a way about it and I still do. He'd make it seem like it was an open environment but really it wasn't, and those are things I see very clearly. Everyone wants to say it's open arms, but just tell me it's not and I'll respect you more."
The episode went through so much editing, but "what it ended up being, and I think the network would agree, was not a true representation of what we intended to do," Barris reveals.
Barris announced he joined Netflix last August. The deal was reportedly worth up to $100 million. He tells The Hollywood Reporter about his decision, "If I was going to step out, I wanted to do something where I could take off all the straps and really hang out of the plane. I want to be Netflix with attitude - loud, bold and unapologetic."