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‘Black-ish’ Creator Kenya Barris May Be Leaving ABC for Netflix Following Dispute

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Kenya Barris failed to get several projects developed for ABC off the ground. (ABC/Matt Petit)

Nearly a year after Shonda Rhimes left ABC to secure an overall deal with Netflix, the network’s top comedy creator may be following suit. “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris is said to be eyeing a deal with the streaming giant and hoping to get out of his overall deal at ABC.

Barris has been with the alphabet network since 2015 and signed a four year deal with them in 2017. If he is able to leave, he’d likely follow Rhimes’ lead and have ABC sign him out of the contract.

“Talks are very real,” a source told The Hollywood Reporter Wednesday, April 4 of the introductory discussions.

While Barris has yet to publicly comment and Netflix and ABC declined to, the news shouldn’t come as a total surprise. The network pulled an episode of “Black-ish” indefinitely that discusses Anthony Anderson’s Dre’s and his older son’s stance on kneeling during the national anthem.

“Given our creative differences, neither ABC nor I were happy with the direction of the episode and mutually agreed not to air it,” Barris said in a March statement. “Black-ish is a show that has spoken to all different types of people and brought them closer as a community and I’m so proud of the series.”

The “Girls Trip” writer has also failed to get several projects off the ground at the network, including “Libby and Malcolm,” a political comedy about two partisan pundits who fall for one another, and a CIA drama called “Unit Zero.” “Libby and Malcolm” was initially considered a shoo-in to head to series but ABC passed. Meanwhile, Barris’ CIA passion project scored a pilot but failed to get picked up to series.

Additionally, a family comedy that initially had actor Alec Baldwin attached to as executive producer and a potential star was grabbed for a straight-to-series order before being downgraded to a pilot and then nixed altogether.

Still, Barris has had some success — but not with ABC. The “Black-ish” spin-off, “Grown-ish” was able to get to FreeForm after skewing on the younger side and comedy “Bright Futures” will debut on NBC over the summer.

And at Netflix, he’s writing the script for the Samuel L. Jackson-led “Shaft” reboot and the producer has been tapped to rewrite a script to the sequel for “Coming to America.”

While ABC likely won’t be thrilled to hand Barris over, lots of Twitter users are on board.

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