Once the show tested with audiences in New York, Ms. Barr says she was told it wouldn’t be picked up because network executives deemed it too “polarizing.”
“How they figure what is polarizing is blows my mind. It really has blown my mind,” she said. “I guess it went back to the sponsors on the East Coast and some of them are—they don’t like me no matter what I do and they don’t like the things I say, so it’s kind of like blacklisting or something. But the fact is that I still think it’s weird to blacklist, or whatever you want to call it, in Hollywood, someone who has a huge—whose show had a huge audience and still does after 20-something years.”
Downwardly Mobile may have foundered at first, but the pilot is apparently still alive, despite Ms. Barr’s fears of being blacklisted. During our first conversation with Ms. Barr, she said the show had been killed. When we spoke a few hours later, she told us NBC was giving it another chance as a potential midseason replacement.
“The Downwardly Mobile thing, I just kind of heard that it’s not completely dead,” said Ms. Barr. “Since I talked to you I got a phone call and I might be getting a chance to retool it, which I hope and pray I would get.”
But in her own estimation, even her television career has been a political effort, in many ways.
“I really hate to toot my own horn, but since I’m a woman I feel I have to,” she told The Observer. “I not only pushed the boundaries, I introduced the subject of gay characters on television,” said Ms. Barr, whose brother and sister are both gay. “That was at great peril to my own career and against all of my advisors. I brought the whole issue of gay to television.”
And just as her television career was politicized, she plans to bring her political career to the screen.
“I am making a movie of my campaign. I’m making a documentary of it for many reasons, and it is funny,” she said. “I am using the crew and the team of my friend Michael Moore, and I am documenting running for president and how hard it is.”
There’s another area of the political realm Ms. Barr says she could potentially get involved with—cable news punditry. Despite her obviously liberal leanings, Ms. Barr says she’d be interested in doing a show with Fox News.
“They’ve always been so fair and nice to me at Fox,” she elaborated. “I just don’t like Fox when it doesn’t get the complete fair and balance, but I do think they do try to, even though some of the people like Sean Hannity and stuff, the things they attack are just ridiculous. But yet, they have the right to do that. You can’t discount that people have the right to freedom of speech. I told Fox I’d sure like to have a show on there, because the people who watch Fox News are people like me also. So, it would be good to be really fair and balanced and have a nice left point of view on there.”
Ms. Barr told us she has been in talks with the network and, at one point, Fox News was ready to give her a show.
“They do talk to me about it … We’ve had beers and laughed about it and stuff. Offers have been made and I just didn’t get on with it because I was trying to just do that sitcom,” Ms. Barr said. “It could happen. Stranger things have happened. It could happen definitely.”