Back when it first aired as a television miniseries, Roots was widely considered a controversial look at American history due to its depiction of the African slave trade. With 12 Years a Slave courting Oscar awards buzz, the History Channel is looking to capture the success of recent films (see: Lee Daniels’ The Butler) with a reboot of Roots.
“We would like to revive that cultural icon for a new audience,” History Channel EVP and GM Dirk Hoogstra said recently. “History in general is in the zeitgeist, which is great for us being a network whose name is History.”
Deadline reports that The History Channel has not only scooped up the rights to Alex Haley’s book, but that the new miniseries will be based on both written materials. Mark Wolper, son of original Roots executive producer David L. Wolper, will executive produce the remake.
Roots was one of the most celebrated television miniseries of all time, earning one Golden Globe and nine Emmy wins out of a record-breaking 37 nominations. Levar Burton, who starred as Kunta Kinte in the original, shared his thoughts with New York Magazine when asked whether or not he’d be involved with the new version.
“My initial reaction was, ‘Why?’,” Burton said. “But, look, the bottom line for me is, if one soul is moved irrevocably toward the side of humanity, then it’s worth it. Social justice requires rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. And I think moments like Roots and 12 Years a Slave are opportunities for art as a cultural force to step forward and lead the way.”
What is your reaction to The History Channel bringing back such a controversial, yet culturally impacting miniseries? Leave your thoughts below!