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ABC Chief Karey Burke Talks Her ‘Anguish’ Over Canceling ‘Speechless’

Upfronts 2019: But ”it came down to numbers,“ Burke says

Karey Burke is just as upset as you are over the cancellation of comedy “Speechless.”

Responding to a question from NPR’s Eric Deggens about the online “anguish” over the decision to cancel the show after three seasons, the ABC Entertainment chairman said there was “a lot of anguish for me, also, and all of us at ABC.” The comedy was part of seven shows that ABC decided not to bring back for next season.

“We loved ‘Speechless.’ And personally for me, it was a very tough decision — Scott Silveri is a former producing partner of mine,” Burke said on Tuesday during parent company Disney’s upfront press briefing. “It was not without great, great, gut-wrenching consideration that we ultimately made that call.”

But, like all programming decisions that the Big 4 networks had to make over the past week, it all came down to math.

“We looked at a lot of factors, ultimately, primarily it came down to numbers and feeling like we could shore up the night more strongly with ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ at 8:30 leading into those ’20/20’ [episodes].”

“Speechless” starred Minnie Driver as a wife and mother who is fiercely protective of her husband, Jimmy, and their three children, Ray, Dylan, and J.J. — who has a condition that leaves him with unique mobility and communication challenges.

ABC is adding six new series for next season — and only three in the fall — and also announced that Tiffany Haddish would host a revival of “Kids Say the Darndest Things,” which will air on Sundays.

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