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Watch First Trailer for ‘Roots’ Reboot

Watch First Trailer for 'Roots' Reboot

The cast of the planned four-night, eight-hour scripted event miniseries already includes Forest Whitaker as “Fiddler,” a slave who tries to mentor Kunta Kinte and risks his life to help him escape; Anika Noni Rose as “Kizzy,” the cherished, smart daughter of Kunta Kinte who maintains her family pride and warrior spirit; Chad L. Coleman as “Mingo,” a stern no-nonsense slave who keeps the Lea plantation afloat; Erica Tazel as “Matilda,” a preacher’s daughter and love interest to “Chicken George”; Derek Luke as “Silla Ba Dibba,” the military trainer of Juffure, charged with transforming teen boys into powerful Mandinka Warriors; Anna Paquin as “Nancy Holt,” the wife of a Confederate officer who has her own agenda when it comes to the handling of slaves; and Jonathan Rhys Meyers as “Tom Lea,” an uneducated slave owner desperate to claw his way into the elite company of Southern gentility.

Rounding out the cast, Emayatzy Corinealdi plays Belle, the wife of Kunta Kinte; Tip “T.I.” Harris plays Cyrus, a headstrong slave who fights for his freedom for the Union Army against Confederate Forces; Mekhi Phifer is Jerusalem, a mute slave who works on the Murray plantation, but who is not quite what he appears to be; James Purefoy will play John Waller, the wealthy owner of a Virginia plantation who buys Kunta Kinte as a slave upon his arrival in America; Matthew Goode is Dr. William Waller, the educated brother of John Waller; Lane Garrison portrays Frederick Murray, a mercurial Confederate officer and slave owner; and finally G. Hannelius plays Missy,” daughter of John Waller.

After a global search to find the actors to play the iconic roles of  “Kunta Kinte” and “Chicken George” that spanned 15 locations (Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Congo, South Africa, Kenya, Los Angeles, London, Toronto, Vancouver, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, New York, Paris and Ireland), newcomers Malachi Kirby and Regé-Jean Page were cast as Kunta Kinte and Chicken George respectively. Malachi was handpicked by executive producers Will Packer and LeVar Burton, who played the original Kunta Kinte.

They all join Laurence Fishburne, who plays Alex Haley, the author of the novel “Roots: The Saga of an American Family.” 

Phillip Noyce and Thomas Carter are directing nights one and three respectively; Mario Van Peebles and Bruce Beresford are set to direct nights two and four.

Questlove is also on-board as the Executive Music Producer for the production.

“Roots” is an A+E Studios production in association with Marc Toberoff and The Wolper Organization, the company that produced the original “Roots.” Will Packer, Marc Toberoff, Mark Wolper, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal serve as executive producers. LeVar Burton and Korin D. Huggins are co-executive producers. Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Alison McDonald, and Charles Murray are writing. Dirk Hoogstra, Arturo Interian and Michael Stiller serve as Executives in Charge of Production for HISTORY. “Roots” is distributed internationally by A+E Networks under the A+E Studios International banner.

The mini-series reboot premieres Memorial Day 2016.

A first trailer has been released and is embedded below:

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Jawsay An

My first thought was why do we need another Roots? That’s still my thought!!! There is so much untold black history; let’s tell it.


Will this be shown on Uk tv aswell?

Galen Muhammad

Since "Roots" was known to have been plagiarized from "The African", isn’t this also a work of plagiarism….?

I’m as disappointed as the next Black man, but Alex Haley admitted to this and paid the author of the original book $650,000 and admitted his guilt in a court of law back in the 70s.



Codeword Aesthetically Pleasing

"The trailer is aesthetically pleasing." Yeeeeah riiiiight? I wonder if Ashley and Jodi are white girls?

Mozella Rainey

I’m excited to see this movie


I look forward to seeing the rebooted version with my children.


Brothas and sistas gotta pay their rent but damn! I really think the meetings go like this: So what do you have? We’re gonna bring back roots. Have a 21st century adaptation of the story. Sounds great. Let’s do this. What else you got? Well, we got a story about James Baldwin. It will be a epic mini-series covering from the fifties, sixties, and seventies. No, I don’t think anyone will watch that….


Thanks for coming back Ashley. Okay, I understand, you focused on the aesthetics. I am more concerned with the story. In reference to "slave" films, in particular, I look for which character or characters wield the most "dramatic agency". That action (dramatic agency) is measured by the ability of a character to change, influence, control and/or survive the circumstances within a story. Unfortunately, in the history of slavery films, that character has generally, if not always, been reserved for white characters. This "Roots" does not appear to be an exception to that rule. To that point, I’ve grown tired of what some define as slave porn, aka "we shall overcome" as massa and the rest of the racist crackers piss on us, hang us, shoot and rape us (without dire consequences), yet but by the grace of God, we shall overcome. And again, from what I know about "Roots", little or nothing is going to change the basics of that story-line. However, hope is still alive. When black folks are at the helm (calling the big shots, not assistants, lead writer) they look through a different paradigm than their white counterparts. And thus, we get a different narrative, a different take on the life of a person in bondage. Lastly, it has been argued that whites can effectively write stories about people, places and things in which they have little engagement and/or no experience. That’s true, I agree, they can. However, recent films centered on famous AA’s, the good and the horrible ones, leads me to believe black directors/writers, may be more suited for the job.

Miles Ellison

All of those stories are overwhelmed by the insatiable desire for slave porn.


How about a story about the Moors, or King Abubakari II, or Mansa Musah, or about the Mali Empire, or Timbuktu libraries n how the Greeks came and sat by the feet of african teachers, or how Africa influence western civilization


It’s not that deep for me CC. The trailer is aesthetically pleasing. Two Black writers (Charles Murray & Alison McDonald), Black producers (Will Packer, LeVar Burton, Korin D. Huggins) and Black directors (Thomas Carter & Mario Van Peeples). Also the cast is filled with actors whose judgement I trust: Forest, Anika, Laurence, Chad, Mekhi, etc. These individuals have worked hard on this project, I want to at least give it a chance.


I am in agreement with cc, but lets put it out there so that folks have a more complete frame of reference to proceed from. The Book of Negroes is from the novel Someone Knows My Name, by Lawrence Hill, a African Canadian(?) (?) because I don’t know the proper racial designation. It is a masterpiece, which I highly recommend, and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Rogers Writers Prize, and was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Clement Virgo is a Canadian-Jamaican and wrote the script along with Mr. Hill. Bottom line is that I must roll with cc on this because he/she is one hundred per cent down and correct.


But Walter, as educational and informative as your suggestion might be, least we forget we’re talking about a TV series in which it’s main goal is to entertain, not teach.

Walter H Gavin

I’m all for history. And I remember the original series and book that was a phenomenon for its time, groundbreaking. I think it’s time to focus the gaze (non-white) on Africa prior to the European slave trade. The 450,000 Africans who were brought to America from which most African Americans today are descended were a strong and resilient people. If not for them America would not be what it is today. The story of the fight for "black" freedom, of "black" agency is a continuum. They needed in this update and retelling to show the through line from Kunta Kinte to Mike Brown to #BlackLivesMatter.

kai azor

I would give the History Channel more credit if they had the balls to cover the Haitian Revolution. Slave movies/shows are today, what ‘hood’ films/shows were in the mid 1990’s. Maybe a mini series about Reconstruction.

El hajj

F kunta kinte an all the white people who made this peice of bull the don’t show nothing good about black people. Nothing empowering. All the same you were slaves, your own people sold you, we abolished slavery and saved you. You ain’t done nothing but put us in a system where you can make the law when and where you want to put young black people in handcuffs and kill them for not obeying your white supremacist rules.

Galen Muhammad

Since "Roots" was known to have been plagiarized from "The African", isn’t this also a work of plagiarism….?

I’m as disappointed as the next Black man, but Alex Haley admitted to this and paid the author of the original book $650,000 and admitted his guilt in a court of law back in the 70s.

Alex Haley Tribute Site

At 0:20 – "It’s time your family payed Kunta!" – Really for going out into the woods to find wood to build his brother a drum to make both his grandmother and mother happy? As far a the original and powerful "I’ll kill you" line originally spoken by Ben Vereen, as Chicken George, to Lloyd Bridges, as Evan Brent, in reference to his desire to peacefully leave Alamance County before heading on the wagon with his family to Henning, I guess it was decided to have a female actor state this line in the same identical voice inflection manner at 1:36. Alex Haley’s full story of Roots (quoting original VHS versions without any bonus material): Roots Mini-Series VHS (570 minutes), Roots: The Next Generations VHS (840 minutes), and Roots: The Gift VHS (100 minutes) = 1,510 minutes of playing time. Roots "remake" = "four-night, eight-hour scripted event" = 480 minutes of playing time and 31.8% of the full story. Kind of makes me feel like when I walk out of a supermarket today where my "pint" of Tropicana Orange Juice, "pint" of Häagen Daz ice cream, "pound" of bacon, and pack of 8 Beef Frankfurters no longer weight 16 ounces.


So many opinions—-see the movie first, THEN share your thoughts— please and thank you!


Actually, Guyver some blacks did sell other blacks. That does not however excuse or condone the actions of Europeans in terms of what they did to those Africans in bondage and their descendants. ——– I was upset they were doing a remake of Roots but I gotta say the trailer was impressive. It looks as if they are exploring sub saharan African people whose culture was touched by Islamic teaching (which makes sense considering Kinte was from Juffure). Then I read the description of the role Derek Luke is playing and I think the story may be taking on interesting angles that the original never did. Not sure if I will watch but I am certainly more intrigued now. At least for the first part of the miniseries.

Lori Hutcherson

CC – Charles Murray is a black man.


ABSOLUTE LIES!!!! Black people did not sell other Black people into slavery, and in this age of white people being portrayed as Gods and Superheroes… we are still in freaking chains!!!! So sick of it.


Thank you Ashley, I stand corrected. I’m smiling b/c when I looked at that name I thought "hmmmmm, that sounds like a woman and I hope it’s not a black woman". But you, Ashley, caught me with my pants down. And now that we’re here, what specifically do you find "good" about the trailer? I’m going to check this out, too, but history says when non-AA’s are in the kitchen preparing an African/Negro pie, it doesn’t taste like grandma’s, uncle Ben’s or Leon’s from down the street. It smells more like Betty Crocker’s… a little flat with a wee bit too much white savior sauce. So what ingredients are in your "good" blackberry pie.


Alison McDonald is a Black woman. The trailer looks good. I’ll check it out.


As strong as Book Of Negroes?! Really?! Okay, quick… when I say Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Alison McDonald, and Charles Murray, what do you see? Hold that thought. Now, when I say Lawrence Hill and Clement Virgo, what do you see? Answers: 4 white guys and 2 black men. The latter were the writers on The Book Of Negros. So although this Roots may be "strong", I have serious concerns on where the strong may lie?


I’m torn, because I feel like this is very interesting and possibly as strong as Book of Negroes, but I don’t like to see us kept in a box that usually consists of stories about slavery, the gospel, and sex-driven romantic comedies.





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