History has already tackled pseudo-historical series Hatfields & McCoys, The Bible and Vikings to great success, so the cable channel is now turning its creative talent toward developing a new Roots miniseries. Originally based on Alex Haley’s book, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, the eight-episode miniseries traced the author’s family line from his enslaved ancestor Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton) to his descendants’ emancipation. The miniseries earned numerous awards and its finale holds the third-highest rating for a U.S. television program to this day. Though it inspired two sequels – Roots: The Next Generations and Roots: The Gift – History is of the opinion that it’s time to bring Roots to a new generation of TV viewers. Hit the jump for more.
Deadline reports that History is developing a new version of Roots, envisioned as a new eight-hour miniseries. History recently acquired the rights to both the original miniseries and Haley’s novel. Mark Wolper, son of Roots executive producer David L. Wolper, is on board to executive produce the new version. History is prepping to begin talks with writers, who will draw on both source materials for the reimagined miniseries. There was also talk of a competing Roots project being eyed by FX, so History jumped at the opportunity.
History – not the channel but the genre – is in vogue at the moment, with popular movies like Django Unchained and Lincoln bringing the issue of slavery to the forefront. A pair of this year’s Oscar hopefuls are cast in a similar light: Lee Daniels’ The Butler and 12 Years a Slave. As the original series was applauded for its stellar ensemble of cast members, the new version will also likely draw top talent, especially in an age when movie stars are crossing over onto television more than ever.