'Roots' Premiere Set for Memorial Day

History’s new version of Roots will have its debut on Memorial Day.

The four-night, eight-hour miniseries will also appear on A&E Network and Lifetime, which like History are part of A+E Networks.

The original Roots aired in 1977 and was an unforgettable television event. Its last installment drew 36 million viewers and a 51 rating, making it the second-most watched series finial in TV history. It won nine Emmys, a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award.

History has high hopes for its version.

Roots will allow new audiences to experience this epic family saga with a new vision that is both inspiring and tremendously entertaining,” said Paul Buccieri, president of A&E and History  “We are proud that History will be able to bring new life to this powerful story that remains as important today as it did when the original Roots first premiered.”

The remake will star Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anika Noni Rose, Tip Harris, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Matthew Goode, Mekhi Phifer and James Purefoy. Newcomer Malachi Kirby plays Kunta Kinte, the African-American whose story the series traces.

LeVar Burton, who played Kunta Kinte in the original Roots, is a co-executive producer of the new version.

“Nearly 40 years ago I had the privilege to be a part of an epic television event that started an important conversation in America,” said Burton. “I am incredibly proud to be a part of this new retelling and start the dialogue again, at a time when it is needed more than ever."


Roots is an A+E Studios production. Episodes were directed by Phillip Noyce, Mario Van Peebles, Thomas Carter and Bruce Beresford.

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.