'Roots' Remake: History Channel Reviving Classic Miniseries

Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013 05:41 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Kunta Kinte is returning to television.

The History Network said Tuesday that it has acquired the rights to remake of the classic "Roots" miniseries, which set ratings records during the 1977 airing of the original.

The cable network is planning an eight-hour miniseries. The original, produced by the late David L. Wolper, ran 12 hours and was based on the book, "Roots: The Saga Of An American Family," by Alex Haley. Wolper's son, Mark, is listed as an executive producer, according to Deadline.com.

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"We would like to revive that cultural icon for a new audience," History Executive Vice President and GM Dirk Hoogstra told Deadline.

Slavery has been a popular topic in recent years among Hollywood movies. Jamie Foxx starred last year in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained," and this winter's "12 Years A Slave" is a potential Oscar winner.

History has also found success with miniseries including "Hatfields & McCoys" and "The Bible," as well as the series "The Vikings."

The original starred LeVar Burton as Kinte, and was a ratings bonanza for ABC. The conclusion drew 100 million viewers.

The miniseries also earned 37 Emmy nominations and won nine awards, including Best Limited Series.

In an interview with New York Magazine, Burton spoke about the impact of the miniseries, as well as his thoughts on the need for a remake, saying, "My initial reaction was, 'Why?' But, look, the bottom line for me is if one soul is moved irrevocably toward the side of humanity, then it’s worth it.

Remakes always have a place in television. Last month, it was revealed that a "Murder She Wrote" remake is in the works, starring Octavia Spencer in the Angela Lansbury role of Jessica Fletcher. This fall saw the airing and cancellation of "Ironside," starring Blair Underwood. Also, a remake of "Hawaii Five-O," starring Alex O'Loughlin and Scott Caan, is in its third season on CBS.

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