Saturday, April 18 was the red carpet and premiere of the documentary Roseanne for President, which stars Roseanne Barr and features Sandra Bernhard, Michael Moore, Rosie ODonnell and Tom Smothers. The doc was Barrs idea, and Moore suggested the director, Eric Weinrib.
I was surprised to see Barr wearing big black sunglasses at the event, and I could tell something was wrong. It turns out she has macular degeneration and glaucoma and is losing her eyesight. Shes a tough cookie, though, and using medicinal marijuana helps to relieve feelings of pressure in her eyes. She also said it helps mentally.
Barr smokes a lot of pot in the movie and has a potty mouth neither of which are surprises. What is surprising is how much substance there is to her! I never knew. She ran for president because she wanted to show people that anybody can run, and she feels like it is up to civilians to open up more options than the two-party system. The film shows her process of running for president in 2012 beginning with the Green Party and later with the Peace and Freedom Party.
On the red carpet when she was asked what she hoped people would get out of the film, Barr said, If I can do it, they can do it. Then, in true Roseanne form, she said, Id like to win. Either that or Ill go into porn.
Right before heading inside the SVA Theatre, when asked what advice she’d give to those wanting to go into the entertainment biz, she said with a wave of her hand, Just forget it.
Bernhard, who had a recurring role on Barr’s hit sitcom “Roseanne” in the 1990s, posed for photos and said, It was a great experience collaborating with Roseanne back in the day. You cant ever doubt her intelligence, thats for sure. When she was asked what the Tribeca Film Festival means to her, Bernhard replied, It means New York the best of New York. Its a big city, but its also a small town, and the festival captures that.
The last person I spoke to on the carpet was comedian Gilbert Gottfried, who introduced himself by saying, People forget I played the younger daughter on Roseanne. When talking about what hed like to do next with his career, he said, Id like to be the dictator of a foreign country.”
Getting to know more about Roseanne through “Roseanne for President” was fun. Aside from the political stuff, we see her with long-term boyfriend John Argent. He seems to get a kick out of her, and their relationship comes across as sweet and caring. Some of Roseanne’s family members are also in the film. Her brother and sister rave about her and even tear up when talking about how much they love her.
The movie also reminded me that the television show Roseanne had been a groundbreaking sitcom. It ran on ABC from 1988 through 1997 and from 89 to 90, it was the most-watched show in the U.S. The series was in the top four for six of its nine seasons, and Roseanne fought the TV network when it told her it wouldnt air a lesbian kiss in one episode. Feisty Roseanne fought that and won. The show earned Roseanne, John Goodman and other cast members Emmy awards.
But this isn’t a fluff piece about walking down memory lane. It’s about advocating for change in America. After the premiere of the film, Roseanne and handsome director Eric Weinrib gave an entertaining talk, which included some lively banter.
Moderator: Is it true you spent about a thousand hours editing [the documentary] down?
Eric Weinrib: True. This was my only project. I completely submersed myself in it. We started shooting the campaign in February of 2012. The editing took about a year.
Roseanne Barr: Two years.
EW: Year and a half.
RB: We got about 15 movies out of it.
Moderator: Were you showing Roseanne cuts as you went along, or did you wait until the very end?
RB: He tried to wait till the end so I couldnt do nothin’ about it. That was part of the reason for the delays. But Im like, “Fuck no.” I told him, “I dont want you to put any of me smoking pot in there,” because I thought that would insult the people who voted for me, but I ended up letting him show it. [Turns to Weinrib] If I go to fuckin prison, man, its your ass.
[Big laugh from the audience]
Moderator: Do you think that your fame helped or hurt your campaign?
RB: A little of both. Thats what fame is. Everybody says its a blessing and a curse. It goes both ways.
Then, Roseanne turned to yours truly and said, Can you turn off those flashes? I have a bad eye.
Watch a clip from “Roseanne for President”
Watch Roseanne Barr and Eric Weinrib on the red carpet
Dorri Olds is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.