57° Good Afternoon
57° Good Afternoon

'Roots' remake coming to History Channel, A&E, Lifetime

LeVar Burton in the original TV show,

LeVar Burton in the original TV show, "Roots." Credit: ABC

"Roots" returns! As expected. The History Channel, A&E and Lifetime will air a new adaptation sometime next year. Length and airdates to be determined. Just announced.

 The 1977 ABC miniseries — based on Alex Haley's novel — aired over eight nights in late January of that year and changed the TV world as we pretty much know it, or knew it. As such, a new version was considered a near-certainty at some point. History/A&E said last year a new "Roots" was in fact under development, but sometimes "under development" can mean "we're thinking about it."

But the thinking part is over: This is happening. LeVar Burton (the original Kunta Kinte) will co-executive produce this, along with Will Packer who is maybe even the bigger name behind the camera: He's overseer of the "Ride Along" franchise (or at least it will be a franchise -- "Ride Along 2" is also arriving next year).  

Cast details are also TBA, while the mini will air simultaneously across each of the networks.

What can I say about "Roots" in this brief space that hasn't been said so many times before? A vast cultural event/milestone, that brought a long, painful blast of U.S. history before TV audiences for the first time. "The Next Generation" followed, and that too was a milestone event. Some 36 million watched the "Roots" finale ...

 Alex Haley's "saga of an American family," however, really was HIS saga, and so how a new team of writers can reorder his vision for a new audience will be the big question, and possibly big challenge, going forward. Haley died in 1992. Presumably his vision — and story — was complete.

Nevertheless, this will be a blockbuster too. There is simply no way it cannot be.



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