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Allen Hughes Will Direct ‘Roots’ Reboot for the History Channel

Allen Hughes Will Direct 'Roots' Reboot for the History Channel

I’d actually forgotten about this reboot, which was announced in late 2013. Clearly, it’s still very much alive, with news today that the History channel, over a year after it initially acquired rights to the series, has tapped Allen Hughes to direct and executive produce the project, which is being fast-tracked. 

Likely inspired by the success other slave narratives have seen on the big screen in the last couple of years (“12 Years A Slave,” “Django Unchained,” and “Lincoln” notably), as well as all the conversation/debate/discussion that each film inspired, and wanting to take its own bite out of that seemingly *financially delicious* apple, in November 2013, History channel acquired 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 were, and still are for an all-new 8-hour mini-series.

Also worth noting, 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, in 2013.
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. And surprisingly, they weren’t British, and most of them had rigorous training/backgrounds in theater. Shocking! 
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. All we know at this point is that 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?
It’s time for me to update my 7 More Slave-Themed Films For You To Look Forward To post, published in early 2013.

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Comments

Robby Goodwin

Black people, Be careful what you ask for. We asked Hollywood to include more black people in their movies. Now we’re getting a bunch of slavery movies. lmbao!!

John Njaga Demps

I wonder if they know of this update. St. James Island in Gambia where Kunta Kinte was held , had its name changed to Kunte Kinte Island. The documentary about this event is called Kunta Kinte Island: Coming Home Without Shackles directed by Elvin Ross and photographed by John Njaga Demps.

urbanauteur

What will it take to usurp these myopic- revisionist testimonies of Woe-is-Us and just burn the house, holly-white built?

CC

"Whats next, the ten commandment with Sam Jackson as Moses?" Hmmmmm, actually, that smells like money. Yep, it could follow Comedy Central’s Black Jesus. The OWN network better start looking over their shoulders. Well, it’s safe to say they have a large percentage of black viewers on lockdown… on Tuesday night. Tyler Perry made that happen. But LOOK OUT, here comes Black Jesus, Moses starring Samuel Jackson and Mary, the mother of Jesus starring Mo Nique! OH LORD, I can hear Mo ‘NIque’s loving voice as she talks to her newborn child… "look here you little mfer, if you don’t sit yo’ cryin’ down, I’m gonna tell DCFS to come get yo’ ass. Look at you sh*ttin’ all over the place. Damn, them pampers cost money and you’ve only used that one 4 times, you little s.o.b!" Yep, look out OWN, move over Roots Reboot, here comes Comedy Central with a lineup that’s sure to attract the black quilty pleasure crowd.

mark

WTF. is there no more fresh ideas, has everything been done, come on enough with the remakes, enough with the change the cast to a different race, enough with the reboots, enough with it already. damn how many times has annie been done now this time she is a little black girl and in a few years she will be an little Mexican girl then she will be a little Russian, next Chinese, when will this shit end. you don’t have to redo every movie ever made with an entire new cast just so you can make a black, Spanish, oriential, indian, or italian version of it, whats next the ten commandment with sam Jackson as Moses, or a Mexican Frodo, or a Chinese thor. and no I am not saying anything about other races I am saying this about Hollywood. taking an old movie and putting a different wrapper on it does not make it a new movie, it makes all of you big time movie people look like a bunch of assholes. I guess the next big wave of remakes will be held off to see what the next president is because as soon as Obama was elected everything was a remake with black actors, so what we will get a women or a Mexican in and then we will get only chick flix or Mexican movies and commercials. Hollywood stop being lazy, stop jumping on the band wagon, stop with the remakes, and bring out new shit or just fire all the writers and hire all new one and get some fresh ideas going. and if the movie bombed the first time out no matter who you cast the movie will still be shit. kung pow enter the fist will still suck even if you put sam Jackson and will smith in it.

anthony

NO ONE CARES HOW MANY YEARS DOES IT TAKE FOR YOU TO GET OVER YOUR WHINEING.BE HAPPY THAT YOUR PEOPLE SOLD THEM OR YOU WOULD STILL BE RUNNING AROUND AFRICA RIGHT NOW.

Creoleyaya

Why, why, why? The Roots series is a classic and shouldn’t be touched.

Qstorm

And I thought the Psycho remake was a bad idea…

Astralgirl01

It’s time to say ENOUGH to all of these slave representations. I mean, we’re either in chains or struggling to get basic freedoms… why can’t Black people be in love on screen? OR happy? Ot just being normal families? I say it’s time we boycott Hollywood films until we get the on-screen representation that we want!!

Colorado Jones

I would cast De’Garryan Andrews as younger Kunta, Zelda Harris as Kizzy, Brandon P Bell as Chicken George(he was mixed), and Viola Davis as Mammy Belle….

CareyCarey

The first comment which says it all. Ladies & Gentlemen, I present Cutdownthenets, aka getthesenets. Hear ye Shadow and Act, I say I say I say, in my best Foghorn Leghorn "Hollywood is greenlighting what white Americans want to see, especially with Black man as POTUS. Hollywood is stuck like fat chuck on seeing knuckle draggin’ bandanna wearing Blacks humbly stoically endure enslavement or cartoonish quentin film. Black women with their breasts swinging in the breeze as they drag along small children who do not know they’re being led to a world so unbearable the dominate race continually tries to whitewash it away. That’s what Americans, blacks and whites, have said – with their dollars – is what they prefer. RE: Allen Huges, lets take a trip down his memory lane. Wait, this is NOT the Hughes Brothers who brought us the worst Denzel movie – ever, The Book of Eli. It’s not the brothers who gave us Jack The Prostitute Ripper, the film seen by, ah, well, not too many black folks saw that flick, and many didn’t even know they were at the helm. Hey, I thought it was a very good film, but I might be in the minority. Anyway, someone tell me, what’s baby brother gonna do with the ying for his yang? You know the saying, 2 heads are better than one, even if one is a pumpkin head. But now he’s flying with one engine. Well, anyway, all that to say, although I am in no-way thrilled about seing Chicken George and the other dancing monkeys (come on y’all, you know this is about entertainment for white folks, not a Selma, nor a 12 Years, nor a history lesson. This is about remembering the good ol’ days). The days when the words BOY, NI**ER, SAMBO, DARKY and coon, only turned the heads of, well… watch the reboot of Roots to see whose ass the long black boot travels the furthest. Yeah, come to think of it, that’s why they’re calling this a RE-BOOT. Re-insert the nasty peckerwood’s boot up the black man’s booty in the year 2015. OUCH.. TAKE IT OUT. I can’t stand the pain, over n over again. Is anybody out there. Does ANYONE feel my pain?

Daryl

Getthesenets I agree with your point, but that doesn’t mean these stories shouldn’t be told,when are we going to take responsibility in financing the films you are talking about, last time I check black Americans wealth would be something like the 35th largest country in the world. If we are not going to play the game to win, then don’t play at all, and waiting hollywood is a losing strategy.

DLG

Well this is something that I’ll look forward to missing. It hasn’t been long enough to ‘reboot’ that series. However, I suppose that it’s safe for The History Channel and for Allen Hughes but honestly there are way more stories that can be told. We all know that it’s time for stories of insurrection and resistance.
Last night when I turned away from ‘Empire’ (because even though Miss Henson was in it I just couldn’t get into it) I came across ‘The Book of Negroes’ on Canadian Broadcasting It’s a six episode series with Aunjanue Ellis – that show hit it out the park. It’s based on Lawrence Hill’s book Someone Knows My Name. The story follows a young woman who’s life went from Africa to The United States to (with the Africans that fought for the British with the understanding that they would be freed) Canada back to Africa and then to Great Britain to be a part of the abolitionist movement there. Miss Ellis performance is up there with Miss Henson but the former story has more substance.

Mike V

Silver lining: probably won’t be too heavily cast with UK actors as the History Channel already has built-in distribution and won’t be too concerned about international sales. So yay, Octavia, Lupita and Viola can look forward to playing slaves again.

Mike V

Not surprised Roots is being redone, as the suits probably saw how well Selma is doing, which itself is a essentially a well-done remake. So, the white audiences get to see us as slaves again in another high-profile Hollywood project, black folks will have another "positive" project to rally around, and black American actors will find work. Everybody "wins".

getthesenets

@Daryl, so muc interest in slavery era but why do you think it’s been so difficult for Danny Glover to get financing for film about the Haitian revolution? Hollywood is greenlighting what white Americans want to see, especially with Black man as POTUS. Hollywood is stuck on seeing Blacks humbly stoically endure enslavement or cartoonish quentin film. Don’t hold your breath about OTHER aspects of slavery era like Maroons,Garifuna, Nat Turner, or L’ouverture/Dessalines stories.

Daryl

People still missing the point about British actors, the actors that played in the original series is what I mentioned earlier, it’s the new generation of actors that don’t get it and don’t want to put in that type of work no more. We still trying to avoid the fact that too many U.S. actors do not love the craft and just want to be stars,that’s it. Also we need to stop this bs talk about slave movie fever, it doesn’t bother me one bit, what our history in this country shouldn’t be told? You never hear jews talking about it’s too many holocaust movies,smh. I like the Hughes brothers as directors, I’m looking forward to see what Allen Hughes does with Roots, by his track record I don’t expect him to cut corners but give you raw truth. Again instead of all this British black actors talk, we need to be challenging U.S. black actors to step their game up. Learn from the Black Great actors of the past to see what it takes and realize you have to put in the work and stop expecting to be rich out the gate, that’s the influence of this reality tv culture,yeah working for little or no pay when you are coming up is part of the game, if you are not concentrating on working on your craft, but just see dollar signs, you on some bs and roles will be taken from you by British black actors.
U.S. black actors , you really don’t think black indie filmmakers would love to pay you top dollar,they would if they could, understand the situation. Advice to indie black filmmakers coming up, when you cast a small low budget indie film and the first thing out of a actors mouth is how much I’m getting paid, get away from them fast as you can, because they are not going to do nothing but bring your project down.Indie filmmaking is about getting in the trenches to get the story told, it’s no million dollar trailers on set.Most of the time everybody working has other jobs, so yes it has to be for the love of the craft to make it happen.This is the main problem with black indie films, it’s not the money.

Mike

Can someone tell me why they are doing this? I don’t see the point, honestly.

Troublemaker

Not a remake of Roots? Oh Lawd! David Oyelowo can play Kunta Kinte, Gugu Mbatha-Raw can play Kizzy and Chiwetel Ejiofor can play Chicken George. They can bring their accents and rigorous training in theater to their roles.

getthesenets

I bet at least 1/3 of the cast will be from outside the U.S. Producers are gonna hedge their bet to package the dvd/br overseas with plenty of actors from UK and english speaking world. I’ve read numerous times that the original Roots series had almost every TV dad in the cast and I’ll assume that it was to spark interest in the widest audience possible. I don’t see the point of remaking the series but supply and demand says that there is an interest in these types of projects

Carl

Since they want contemporary, they will cast Christian Bale as Kunta, George Clooney as Chicken George and Meryl Streep as Kizzie. Anthony Hopkins can play the older Kunta.

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