Roots’ 30th Anniversary On TV One

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TV One’s 30th anniversary telecast of the epic mini-series Roots will be a week-long television event hosted by cast members of the award-winning production.

The Emmy-, Golden Globe- and Peabody Award-winning miniseries, which follows several generations of an enslaved family from Africa in the 1700s to emancipation during the Civil War, will air in six parts from 8-10 PM Sunday, April 8-Thursday, April 13, repeating each evening at 10 PM and the following day at noon, with the finale airing on Sunday, April 15, at 8 and 10 PM, repeating on April 16 at noon (all times ET).

The hosts for the week-long event are LeVar Burton (Kunta Kinte) on Sunday, April 8 and Monday, April 9, Lou Gossett, Jr. (Fiddler) on Tuesday, April 10, Richard Roundtree (Sam Bennett) on Wednesday, April 11, Leslie Uggams (Kizzy) on Thursday, April 12 and Ben Vereen (Chicken George) for the final episode on Sunday, April 15. The five former cast members will all be on hand Sunday, April 15 for a closing tribute to the late author and creator of Roots, Alex Haley.

Leading up to and through the week of the Roots telecast, TV One is also airing vignettes from notable African Americans of all ages about the significance of Roots in their lives and African American culture. Among those featured in the vignettes are the hosts mentioned above, as well as Rev. Al Sharpton, Quincy Jones, Queen Latifah, Alex Haley’s brothers George and Julian Haley, Regina King, Dick Gregory, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Jermaine Dupri, Jasmine Guy, Vanessa Williams and Malinda Williams, among others.

This historic series, based on the late Alex Haley’s best-selling book about his ancestors, begins with the harrowing story of Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton), a young West African who is captured by slave traders in 1750 and sold into slavery in America, and the saga continues through the emancipation of Chicken George (Ben Vereen), Kunta Kinte’s grandson. 

Still the top-rated mini-series of all time, Roots in its initial airing on ABC was watched - in full or in part - in 85 percent of U.S. homes, a staggering number even in an era when there were only three television networks.  The mini-series captivated the American television audience and became a social phenomenon unlike any other program of its time.  Roots served as a catalyst for national discussions about race, the legacy of slavery, African American history and launched a new passion for family history and genealogy, especially among African Americans.

Aside from its social impact, Roots established the mini-series as a format and featured a distinguished cast, many of whose careers were launched by the mini-series. Featured in the all-star cast are LeVar Burton, Ben Vereen, Louis Gossett Jr., Leslie Uggams, Ed Asner, John Amos, Maya Angelou, Cicely Tyson, Georg Stanford Brown, Moses Gunn, Richard Roundtree, Olivia Cole, Ian McShane, Lorne Greene, Lloyd Bridges and Todd Bridges, among others.  

An award-winning producer and director, Burton, who portrayed Kunta Kinte in the mini-series, is working with TV One on developing original content to support TV One’s telecast of the mini-series, including interstitial vignettes, online elements for and content designed for the education community.

“I’m thrilled that TV One has become the new home for Roots,� said Burton. “Roots is part of our common history, and is as relevant today as when it was first broadcast 30 years ago.� 

“Roots was landmark television for all of American society, but especially for African Americans, for we had never before seen our story on television, and rarely even seen ourselves portrayed as multi-dimensional individuals,� said TV One President and CEO Johnathan Rodgers. “While a lot has changed in 30 years, Roots continues to be powerful television and an important lesson in our country’s history. We are delighted to bring it back to viewers who remember it as children and young adults, as well as introduce this groundbreaking saga to a whole new generation of viewers of all ethnicities.�

Launched in January 2004, TV One serves more than 36.6 million households (Nielsen March. 2007 estimate), offering a broad range of lifestyle and entertainment-oriented original programming, classic series, movies, fashion and music designed to entertain, inform and inspire a diverse audience of adult African American viewers.


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