'Roots' remake officially in works for 2016; slavery drama based on Alex Haley's family memoir to air on History, Lifetime and A&E
Thursday, April 30, 2015
"Roots" will be remade 39 years after the original mini-series made television history and helped open the national discourse on the legacy of slavery.
History, A&E and Lifetime jointly announced Thursday that the remake was important enough be broadcast on all three sister networks in 2016.
Despite the challenge of comparisons to the original landmark series, the high-profile project is in good hands, with original star LeVar Burton on board as an executive producer. Hollywood heavyweight Will Packer, who shepherded "Ride Along" and "Think Like a Man" to the big screen, is also executive producing.
Original producer David L. Woper's son, Mark, is another EP on the "Roots" reboot.
Based on author Alex Haley's family memoir, "Roots," the original mini-series starred Burton as the slave Kunta Kinte and became a national phenomenon when it aired over eight nights on ABC in January 1977.
The final episode is still the third most-watched U.S. telecast of all time - it attracted an estimated 100 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
"Roots" was rewarded with 37 Emmy nominations that year, winning nine.
Reports that History was developing a remake first surfaced two years ago, but the project wasn't officially greenlit until this week.
"My initial reaction was, 'Why?'" Burton told New York Magazine in 2013.
"But, look, the bottom line for me is if one soul is moved irrevocably toward the side of humanity, then it's worth it."