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Blog fight! 'Cheers' writer trades barbs with Roseanne Barr

May 31, 2011 |  1:42 pm

Roseanne Just weeks after Roseanne Barr gave a blow-by-blow account of why her sitcom "Roseanne" was doomed -- among the reasons she cited were blatant sexism and lack of creative control -- one sitcom writer is firing back.

On Monday, Ken Levine ("Cheers," "MASH")  criticized Barr on his blog for playing the victim, as well as for her eagerness to brand male writers as misogynists. (In her screed, Roseanne had written, "Male writers have zero interest in being nice to women, including their own assistants, few of whom are ever promoted to the rank of 'writer,' even though they do all the work while the guys sit on their asses taking the credit.")

Though Levine admitted that he has never worked with Barr, and casually knows her archenemy, former "Roseanne" scribe Matt Williams, he insisted that she was a nightmare to work with. "Since there was so much turnover in the writing staff and she had no desire to learn anyone's names, she made them each wear numbers around their necks during runthroughs," he claimed, though he didn't say where this information came from. "I've always believed that fame and money and power just make you more of what you really are," Levine wrote. "And if that's the case, than Roseanne is a monster."

Of course, the "monster" had a few words to say about that. "This guy and every one of his commenters loathe women," Barr reponded on her blog, adding, "I am pretty sure that women who have worked for [Ken Levine] in the past (if indeed there were ANY) worked in a hostile work environment. Let me know, women writers out there -- how were you treated on Ken Levine's staff?"

No one from Levine's staff answered Barr's question in her comments, but Levine invited three of them to respond on his own blog. Their verdict? Ken Levine is not a sexist -- sorta. "The most sexist thing he ever did was blather on about baseball with the other men in the room despite the fact that I was visibly bored," wrote Robin Schiff, who worked with Levine on the '90s sitcom "Almost Perfect." "Hardly grounds for a lynching."

And yet, Schiff didn't disagree with Barr that TV can be a sexist industry: "Women comprise only 28% of working writers. We still make less money than men. All you have to do is look at the writers onstage accepting Emmys for late-night talk shows and sitcoms to see that women comedy writers are on the endangered list."

Who's in the wrong here: Barr, for using the s-word (sexist) and using it to brand a man she's never worked with, or Levine, for using the m-word (monster) on a woman he's never met? We await your response in our sure-to-get-heated comments section below.

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-- Melissa Maerz

Photo: Roseanne Barr. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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