TV

She was a Rio Americano cheerleader in the 1980s. On Tuesday, she canceled 'Roseanne'

Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, addresses the press at Disney and ABC Television Group's session during the TCA Summer Press Tour 2016 at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.
Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, addresses the press at Disney and ABC Television Group's session during the TCA Summer Press Tour 2016 at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. ABC

ABC president Channing Dungey made headlines across the country Tuesday for her strongly-worded nixing of Roseanne Barr's eponymous show after the actress' racist comments on Twitter. But 40 years ago, she was just another girl riding her bike through Citrus Heights, pretending to star in "Charlie's Angels."

Born in Sacramento on March 14, 1969, Dungey attended Deterding Elementary School, Arden Middle School and Rio Americano High School alongside her younger sister Merrin, an actress who went on to appear on shows such as "Big Little Lies" and "Malcolm In the Middle." She was a varsity cheerleader, according to the 1986 Rio Americano yearbook.

The children of a teacher and a Sacramento Municipal Utility District employee, the sisters obsessed over the latest issues of TV Guide growing up, they told an Emmy Magazine interviewer in 2014.

Channing Dungey went on to study political science at UCLA before switching over to film studies. She joined ABC in 2004 and oversaw development of hit shows such as "Grey's Anatomy" and "Lost" until replacing Paul Lee as the company's president in February 2016, making her the first African-American to head a major network.

"I couldn’t be more proud of her," Merrin told Sactown Magazine in 2016. "She’s so right for the job because she already knows so much of what’s right for that network."

Channing and Merrin returned to the Sacramento area last year to be inducted into the STARS Hall of Fame, according to the San Juan Education Foundation.

On Tuesday morning, Barr compared former Obama administration adviser Valerie Jarrett to the offspring of the Muslim Brotherhood and an ape. Dungey responded by pulling the plug on "Roseanne," a show that garnered up to 18 million viewers per episode last season, and called Barr's comments "abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values" in a prepared statement.

ABC rebooted "Roseanne" three months ago after two decades of dormancy, casting Barr as a Donald Trump-supporting matriarch. The network has also rolled out shows with minority-rich casts such as "black-ish" and "Fresh Off the Boat" in recent years.

Kellen Browning contributed to this story.

Benjy Egel: (916) 321-1052, @BenjyEgel

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