On Monday the Museum of the Moving Image's ongoing Changing the Picture series of screenings and discussions here in NYC, which celebrates and explores the work of film and television artists of color, presented Making Roots, Making TV History – a discussion with Ben Vereen, Lou Gossett Jr., LeVar Burton, and Leslie Uggams (stars of the landmark television miniseries) on the show’s production and its long-lasting legacy.
The discussion was moderated by Donald Thoms, Vice President of Programming for PBS, presented in collaboration with Pioneers of Television, the four-part PBS series which premiered on WNET/Thirteen January 15, 2013.
The episode on Roots aired last night, February 5 at 8pm, and to plug this new celebration of the mini-series, Vereen, Gossett, Burton and Uggams stopped by the Wendy Williams Show yesterday morning, to talk and reminisce about Roots as a TV event, and also working on the production.
As you'd expect, Django Unchained came up, given all the comparisons that have been made between Roots and Django Unchained (which I never quite understood). But more specifically, Wendy asked them to respond to Tarantino's quote (during his press tour for Django) in which he pretty much pissed on Roots, calling it inauthentic, stating:
“When you look at Roots, nothing about it rings true in the storytelling, and none of the performances ring true for me either… I didn’t see it when it first came on, but when I did I couldn’t get over how oversimplified they made everything about that time. It didn’t move me because it claimed to be something it wasn’t.”
Naturally, that didn't sit well with some. We never really addressed that comment here on S&A, but I figured we'd exhausted Django Unchained chatter, and so didn't bother. BUT, I post this because this is the very first time that the cast of Roots has publicly responded to Tarantino's quote; at least, this is the first time that I'm aware of them responding. If they have before, and done so collectively as they did on Wendy's show, then I missed it.
So I thought this was worth sharing…