Tag Archives: Alex Haley

‘Roots’ returns

Ship 1By Lynn R. Mitchell

In 1977 I tuned into the mini-series “Roots” with millions of other Americans. The story of Kunta Kinte unfolded before us and brought history and the quest for family into our living rooms … and became a blockbuster event. The remake of “Roots” began this week, as noted by The New York Times. A new generation will now get to know Kunta Kinte:

Kunta Kinte, a teenager from Africa, arrived in chains in 1767 in Annapolis, Md., where he was sold at auction to a Virginia plantation owner.

He inspired Alex Haley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “Roots,” which topped our best-seller list for nearly six months in 1976 and led to a mini-series a year later that was the most-watched program in history at the time.

Now “Roots” has returned to TV in a remake. It began on Monday and continues for three more nights on History, A&E, Lifetime and LMN (9 p.m. Eastern).

Mr. Haley’s book, billed as nonfiction, traces the author’s family history, beginning with Kunta Kinte’s grandparents and down to Mr. Haley. (Historians found that much of it was fiction.)

ABC worried that the TV version would not have broad appeal, and opted to broadcast it over eight consecutive nights, rather than once a week so it would be over before sweeps week. Instead, it simply built momentum, and 100 million viewers — nearly half the country — tuned in for the finale.

It earned nine Emmys, a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award.

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