Barris’ contract was supposed to be up in 2021, but teams for Barris and ABC negotiated a deal that allows him to leave ABC by next month. Barris has been with the studio since 2015.
The early end of Barris’ ABC contract does not signify an end to Black-ish, Grown-ish, or his upcoming Freeform series Besties — Barris will be staying on as an executive producer for the shows he created. But it does indicate that something new is coming for Barris. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Barris is in talks with Netflix and could potentially score a nine-figure deal with the platform.
In any case, Barris’ ABC exit should not come as a surprise. Following the network’s shelving of a Black-ish episode about athletes kneeling during the National Anthem due to “creative differences,” rumours about Barris’ desire to find a new creative home had been circulating for months.
Barris also had some projects in development with Netflix before the official end of his ABC contract. This, plus the fact that Netflix is rapidly becoming coveted (and profitable) ground for high-profile creators — earlier this year, Netflix snagged powerhouse producers Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy away from ABC and Fox, respectively — makes the streaming giant a natural fit for Barris.
In a statement, Barris said he was “grateful” to ABC studios president Patrick Moran, his team, and the many accolades his ABC shows have received over the years, including Peabody and Golden Globe wins and Emmy nominations.
“Most importantly, they’ve allowed me to realise my dream of creating my own shows and I’m so proud of the work we’ve done together," Barris said in his statement. "No matter what, the studio has never wavered in their support of my creative vision. Leaving is bittersweet, but between my series on the air and projects currently in development, I know I’ll continue to work with ABC Studios for a long time.”