On July 1 it was announced that the new series event, Roots, had cast Laurence Fishburne in the starring role as the next Alex Haley. On April 30, the EVP and General Manager of History, Dirk Hoogstra, had announced that the network had given the greenlight for the scripted series event. At the time of the press release, it was announced that LeVar Burton, who was an original cast member of the Roots saga, would be a co-executive producer for this newest incantation.
Although this new program will once more use material from the novel by Haley, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, it will also be using new research from that time period as well. The original miniseries is considered by many to be a true classic and a television phenomenon. In the press release about the new version of the story, it is said that the original “had an indelible effect on American culture.” The new production will once more focus on Haley’s origin story, but this time it will be based upon the life of Kunta Kinte.
The announcement that Fishburne would be taking on the role of Alex Haley in the new Roots adaptation, is the first decision to be made in regards to who would be starring in the series. Fishburne is a highly acclaimed actor, who has also taken on the roles of director and producer. He has won both an Emmy and a Tony Award, and he has been nominated for an Academy Award. The actor won for his roles in Tribeca and Two Trains Running, respectively. Fishburne was also nominated for an Emmy for his role as Thurgood Marshall.
Amongst his many roles, Fishburne has starred in such films as, Mystic River, Rumble Fish, The Matrix, The Tuskegee Airmen and The Color Purple. He is currently acting in and co-executive producer of the television series, Black-ish. Now, he will be taking on the iconic role of Haley in the upcoming production of Roots for the A+E networks.
This new version of Roots will be a contemporary production, which will once more introduce viewers to the work of Haley. The series is a portrait of American slavery through the recollections of one family’s journey. It is this family’s story of survival, hardship, endurance and ultimately, the ability to carry forth their legacy despite those hardships and the inhumanity. The story spans multiple generations and begins with Kinte as he is captured and brutally transported to the Americas.
The Roots saga touches upon many aspects of American history, as it covers this family’s journey from generation to generation. This is a family continually dealing with adversity, while also contributing to many of the most notable events in the country’s history, such as the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. As a saga and a literary contribution, this is a story of the human spirit and its inherent resilience.
Roots is currently scheduled to air in 2016, with Fishburne starring in the role of Alex Haley. The series event will be telecast simultaneously across A&E, History Channel and Lifetime.
By Kimberley Spinney
Press Releases from A+E Networks
Photo Courtesy of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Flickr Page – DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Hinton