No folks, it’s not April Fools Day.
I’ve already said plenty about “slave movie fever” over the last 12 months, but this one even I didn’t see coming! I did joke about the possibility of this happening (in light of “slave movie fever”) in previous posts, but, really, I didn’t at all expect that those jokes would actually become a reality.
So this is truly a surreal moment for me.
Per Deadline, the History channel, likely inspired by the success other slave narratives have seen on the big screen in the last year (12 Years A Slave, Django Unchained, and Lincoln notably), as well as all the conversation/debate/discussion around each film, and wanting to take its own bite out of that seemingly *financially delicious* apple, has acquired the rights to the 1977 TV miniseries Roots: The Saga Of An American Family, from Mark Wolper, son of Roots executive producer, the late David L. Wolper, as well as rights to the book the miniseries was based on, penned by the late Alex Haley, from the author’s estate.
Plans are for an all-new new 8-hour series.
Apparently, the FX network was also planning its own Roots reboot, and when the History network learned of this, they wasted no time in securing all necessary rights to the original series as well as the book.
“We would like to revive that cultural icon for a new audience,” said History EVP and GM Dirk Hoogstra.
Or that new audience could simply watch the original series.
2012 marked the 35th anniversary of the groundbreaking and award-winning miniseries based on Alex Haley’s saga. Roots, produced on a $7 million budget, received 37 Emmy Award nominations and won 9. It was also a ratings smash, with the final episode drawing a staggering, and record-breaking 100 million viewers. An average of 80 million viewers watched each episode.
The series introduced LeVar Burton in the role of Kunta Kinte. The ensemble cast included an impressive group of thespians like Ben Vereen, Lou Gossett Jr., John Amos, Leslie Uggams, Georg Stanford Brown, Cicely Tyson and many more.
A sequel, Roots: The Next Generations, first aired in 1979, and a second sequel, Roots: The Gift, a Christmas TV movie, starring Burton and Louis Gossett Jr. first aired in 1988.
Will the reboot carry a similar significance and draw comparable audience interest? Likely not. But I’m certainly curious.
As for casting, it’s a bit too early for that stage of the process, as a writer is currently being sought to pen this new version which will reportedly draw from both the book and the original miniseries, from “a contemporary perspective.” What exactly is meant by “a contemporary perspective” I have no idea.
Who would you cast as Kunta Kinte, Kizzy, Chicken George, et al?
I need to ponder this further, so expect a follow-up post sharing my thoughts on this. If anything, it’ll be a coup for black actors!
It’s time for me to update my 7 More Slave-Themed Films For You To Look Forward To post, published much earlier this year.