Deadline is exclusively reporting that History has greenlit a remake of the classic, landmark 1977 miniseries 'Roots,' adapted from the novel by Alex Haley. This is no small feat; the original miniseries remains one of the most acclaimed and celebrated television productions of all time. Back in the Seventies, 'Roots' won an incredible nine Emmy Awards, along with a Golden Globe for good measure. History has some very big shoes to fill, to say the least.
While the 1977 production was a 12-hour miniseries, History's updated version will be an eight-hour project. Based on 'Roots: The Saga of an American Family' by Alex Haley, 'Roots' is about Kunta Kinte, a man from Gambia captured by members of a rival tribe and sold to slavers in 1767. From there, 'Roots' follows Kunta Kinte's descendents through to the end of the American Civil War and beyond. In 1977, LeVar Burton played young Kunta Kinte, a role that earned him an Emmy nomination.
History's current plan is to hire new writers on the project to draw from Haley's novel as well as the original miniseries, from a contemporary perspective. No word as of yet on whether or not this new version will take into account the sequels to the 1977 miniseries; 'Roots: The Next Generations' followed in 1979, with 'Roots: The Gift' being released in 1988. 'The Gift' was most noteworthy for both LeVar Burton and Louis Gossett, Jr. reprising their roles from the original miniseries.
The initial miniseries aired over eight consecutive nights, capturing the collective attention of America. 'Roots' broke ratings records back in 1977, partly due to the fact that it was rare to see an all-black starring cast on television. While History isn't likely to recreate the audience of the original, updated production values coupled with the excellent material being adapted could make this new 'Roots' something quite special indeed.