History Channel Developing Eight-Hour Remake of ‘Roots’ Miniseries

By November 5, 2013
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Roots - History

With tons of buzz around 12 Years a Slave and star Chiwetel Ejiofor, it looks like History Channel wants to bring back an iconic miniseries that also shined a dramatic and powerful light on that despicable time of slavery in the history of the United States of America.

Deadline reports The History Channel has picked up the rights to the 1977 miniseries “Roots.” But instead of doing a 12-hour miniseries like the original, History will only have an 8-hour miniseries based on the book Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley. Here’s the official synopsis from the 30th anniversary release of the miniseries on DVD:

Based on Alex Haley’s best-selling novel about his African ancestors, Roots followed several generations in the lives of a slave family. The saga began with Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton), a West African youth captured by slave raiders and shipped to America in the 1700s. The family’s saga is depicted up until the Civil War where Kunte Kinte’s grandson gained emancipation.

The project is still in early development with Mark Wolper (son of the late David L. Wolper, the original miniseries’ executive producer) executive producing the new endeavor that will use the TV production and the book to build this new miniseries from “a contemporary perspective.” History moved quickly to lock down this remake after they learned that there was another attempt to remake the iconic miniseries in the works at FX.

Roots - LeVar Burton

It seems strange to say this, but recounting our terribly history with slavery is all the rage right now. Besides the Oscar contender 12 Years a Slave, last year brought both Lincoln and Django Unchained to the big screen, and even Lee Daniels’ The Butler has the racial tension and controversy that dwells from the American past.

“Roots” is a harrowing piece of drama that is sadly based on real events and people, and History is a solid place for a remake to land. Even if the network isn’t nearly as concerned with real historical programming anymore, their dramatizations with projects like “Hatfields & McCoys” and “The Bible” have been huge hits, so they’re pressing on with great vigor. The remake will have a lot to live up to, but here’s hoping they can do something original with the familiar story.

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Ethan Anderton
Some of his favorite films include Ghostbusters, The Empire Strikes Back and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, while his favorite TV series include LOST, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Parks & Recreation, Arrested Development and Saturday Night Live.