Laurence Fishburne is the first actor to be cast in the upcoming remake of “Roots,” which History, A&E and Lifetime have all teamed up for, calling it a scripted event series for a new generation of viewers, which will simulcast on all three flagship networks.
Fishburne will play Alex Haley (James Earl Jones played him in the original 1970s series).
Will Packer is an executive producer, and original “Roots” cast member LeVar Burton is a co-executive producer, along with Mark Wolper.
Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Alison McDonald and Charles Murray are writing.
Vickie Thomas is casting director.
“Roots” will be an original, contemporary production, incorporating more material from Haley’s novel, “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” as well as researched new scholarship of the time.
The networks say that they are working closely with many prominent historians in the fields of African and African American history, as well as diverse leaders from across the country.
“The opportunity to present one of America’s most powerful stories to a generation that hasn’t seen it is tremendously exciting. Contemporary society needs this story and I’m proud to be a part of it,” said Packer.
“My career began with ROOTS and I am proud to be a part of this new adaptation,” said Burton. “There is a huge audience of contemporary young Americans who do not know the story of ROOTS or its importance. I believe now is the right time to tell this story so that we can all be reminded of its impact on our culture and identity.”
It’s set for a 2016 premiere.
Worth noting, History, A&E and Lifetime are all subsidiaries of A&E Networks, itself a joint venture between Disney and Hearst Corporation.