This makes it official; slavery is trendy in cinema in 2013. History channel has purchased the rights to Roots and will be remaking the groundbreaking 1977 ABC miniseries.
Deadline reports that the History channel acquired the rights to Roots from Mark Wolper, son of Roots executive producer David L. Wolper. Also, the rights to Alex Haley’s book, Roots: The Saga Of An American Family, that the 12-hour mini-series was based on, were acquired from the late writer’s estate.
Wolper will serve as an executive producer but a writer has not yet been chosen. The remake will draw from the book and the mini-series, which starred a then unknown LeVar Burton, who portrayed a slave named Kunta Kinte, as well as a plethora of notable Black actors like Ben Vereen, Cicely Tyson and Louis Gossett, Jr.
“We would like to revive that cultural icon for a new audience,” History EVP and GM Dirk Hoogstra told Deadline.
Clearly that revival isn’t just based on a totally altruistic reason. Says Deadline:
The timing couldn’t be better — the topic of slavery is very much on people’s minds through a string of popular movies including last year’s Django Unchained,this year’s Oscar hopeful 12 Years A Slave, and with Lee Daniels’ The Butler also touching on the subject. Add to that the success of other recent historical films like Lincoln. “History in general is in the zeitgeist, which is great for us being a network whose name is History,” Hoogstra said. The cable network has played a major role in bringing history to the forefront of pop culture over the past couple of years with its blockbuster miniseries Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible as well as series The Vikings.
We would prefer “education” to “good timing” as far motivation, but maybe we’re asking for too much.
Let us know what you think about Roots getting the remake treatment in the comments.