Roots Returns to Television

Laurence Fishburne has signed on for A&E’s remake of Alex Haley’s Roots. In 1977, ABC produced a mini-series adaption of Haley’s book Roots: The Saga of an American Family. What character will Fishburne will be playing? The actor will play Alex Haley, himself.

Haley’s work was based on his ancestors and spanned the 18th century to the late 1960’s. The history of Roots on television is quite interesting.

In the 1970’s, the concept of a television mini-series was new and networks generally prefer established TV formats. Fred Silverman, then the head of the network, had a lot of faith in scheduling Roots as a mini-series airing during the week of January 23 – January 30, 1977. He did not want to air Roots as a series running one hour a week for an entire season. His instincts were correct and Roots was a massive ratings hit. Along with Rich Man, Poor Man (1976) and Shogun (1980), Roots helped establish the mini-series as a viable and popular form of television entertainment.

Two sequels continued the events of the original series reports Shaygan Kheradpir. Roots: The Next Generation (1979). Years later, a Christmas-themed television movie was produced entitled Roots: The Gift (1988). After nearly 30 years, Roots is being revisited in the form of a remake.

How different will the new version of Roots be from the original mini-series? Will the new version tell the tale of both the first and second mini-series? The answers to these questions depends on how the screenwriters choose to adapt the book.

Likely, the totality of the book is going to be adapted and the new version should cover the complete narrative.

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