With help from a team of rabbis, a 16-character multiple-personality disorder and at least one ex-husband, the shrill "domestic goddess'' Roseanne Barr has transformed her struggle to treat people decently into a reality TV show.
Installments of the 13-episode "The Real Roseanne Show'' are scheduled to debut 9 p.m. EDT Aug. 6 on ABC.
Produced by Barr and "The War Room'' documentarian R.J. Cutler, the show chronicles her efforts to start a new cooking program called "Domestic Goddess.'' It features her wolfing doughnuts with celebrity friends such as Sandra Bernhard, and consulting numerous rabbis to help her deal with psychological problems and the people around her.
After the six-week series ends, the cooking program "Domestic Goddess'' will begin running on ABC's Family cable channel.
Famous for her tantrums and sometimes tasteless behavior, like grabbing her crotch after singing an off-key rendition of the national anthem at a 1990 baseball game, the 50-year-old comedian said her rabbis have urged her to stop mistreating co-workers, friends and family. She said she also occasionally takes her problems to Buddhists and Christians for guidance.
"They all say the exact same thing, which is `be nice and nicer things will happen for you,' and by God if it ain't true,'' she told the Television Critics Association on Monday.
Not that being nice comes easy for her.
"There's a kind of constant struggle that informs every episode of the series,'' said Cutler. "Sometimes, she's more successful than others.''
"Yes,'' Barr agreed, "sometimes the devil wins.''
Barr, who won an Emmy in 1993 for her performance on "Roseanne,'' the long-running sitcom that made her a star, also was host of "The Roseanne Show,'' a daytime talk program that aired from 1998 to 2000.
She changed her name to Roseanne Arnold after her short-lived marriage to comic Tom Arnold, then went by the solo moniker Roseanne for a time. That made it difficult to travel abroad, she said, since her one-name passport sparked suspicion, so she restored her original surname.
The first of Barr's three ex-husbands, Bill Pentland, serves as one of her assistants on the new reality show, along with his current wife, Becky. Her agent, manager and stylist also appear, and in one episode Barr is reunited with her former "Roseanne'' co-star John Goodman.
How would the development of that premise been different if Cutler's camera's hadn't been following her the whole time?
"I wouldn't have been as nice, probably,'' Barr said.