US television network ABC denied Sunday that it had canceled comedian Tim Allen's popular sitcom "Last Man Standing" due to its conservative politics.
Fans of the show -- and Allen himself -- were angered when ABC announced in May that one of its most-watched scripted series, a solid ratings draw, was to end.
Allen's character, an outspoken conservative, echoed the political positions of the 64-year-old actor, a Republican who attended President Donald Trump's inauguration.
The announcement sparked a firestorm of criticism on social media, with Allen tweeting that he had been "stunned and blindsided" by Disney-owned ABC's decision.
Meanwhile a petition on Change.org that attracted more than 300,000 signatures claimed the comedy was cancelled because it was the only entertainment program that was not constantly shoving "liberal ideals down the throats of the viewers."
"Politics had absolutely nothing to do with it," ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey told the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles.
"We have actors on our shows who have all sorts of political views. Tim Allen is a valuable part of the Disney family and has been for a very long time."
She described "Last Man Standing" as a "high quality show" but added that the network had not been able to find room in the schedules for a seventh season.
Dungey was addressing journalists as she introduced ABC's segment at the TCA's annual summer press tour in Beverly Hills, where journalists hear from television producers and stars about their upcoming seasons.
- 'Roseanne' revival -
Dungey spoke briefly about the upcoming "Roseanne" reboot starring comedian Roseanne Barr -- another outspoken Trump supporter -- and announced it would ignore the death of Dan (John Goodman) in the last episode in 1997.
"I can confirm that Dan is still alive," she said, but would not comment on whether other plot developments -- such as Roseanne's sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) revealing she was a lesbian -- would be revived.
Dungey also used her presentation to assuage early worries that the forthcoming "Marvel's Inhumans" won't be up to the standard of the comic book giant's other superhero movies and television shows.
The first two episodes of the series -- about a royal family of super-powered aliens from the moon who are exiled to Hawaii -- will premiere as a 75-minute movie in IMAX theaters on September 1, prior to ABC's September 29 television premiere.
Based on an early version of the first episode made available to reviewers, journalists voiced concerns over the show's look, saying it does not merit an IMAX release.
But Dungey described it as a "work in progress," saying the month before it is due to premiere will be enough time to get it right.
"I can tell you that... the show that you have seen is not the finished product," Marvel Television chief Jeph Loeb added later.
Based on characters from Marvel Comics, the series was filmed in Hawaii earlier this year and shares continuity with movies and other television series of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
More visually ostentatious than the grittier, more mature Marvel shows aired by Netflix, "Inhumans" -- starring Anson Mount and Iwan Rheon as two brothers -- features a giant computer-generated dog that teleports its masters wherever they need to go.
- Publicity stunt -
In a politically-flavored day, ABC also showcased its new comedy "The Mayor," from executive producers Jeremy Bronson ("Late Night with Jimmy Fallon") and Grammy and Tony Award-winning Daveed Diggs, who originated the role of Thomas Jefferson in stage musical "Hamilton."
The show, due to premiere on October 3, follows an aspiring rapper, played by Brandon Micheal Hall, who is struggling to get noticed.
He cooks up a publicity stunt -- running for mayor in his hometown in California's Bay Area to generate buzz for his music -- but unexpectedly wins the election.
Bronson, a producer for seven years with cable news network MSNBC, acknowledged the topicality of a show about an outsider unexpectedly winning an election -- but said his series was about grassroots empowerment.
"Given the politics of the past year everybody is a lot more focused on what they can do, what we can all do, to improve the country, improve our situations," he said.