Fishburne, an Emmy and Tony winner currently co-starring on ABC’s Black-ish, will play Haley, author of the novel Roots: The Saga Of An American Family, an American family origin story based around the life of Kunta Kinte. The new version is described as an original, contemporary production, incorporating more material from Haley’s novel, as well as carefully researched new scholarship of the time. The event series will be simulcast on A&E, History and Lifetime in 2016.
Roots is described as a historical portrait of American slavery recounting the journey of one family’s will to survive, endure and ultimately carry on their legacy despite enormous hardship and inhumanity. Spanning multiple generations, the lineage begins with young Kunta Kinte who is captured in his homeland in The Gambia and transported in brutal conditions to colonial America where he’s sold into slavery. Throughout the series, the family continues to face adversity while bearing witness and contributing to notable events in U.S. history – including the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, slave uprisings and eventual emancipation.
Fishburne won a Tony for his portrayal of Sterling Johnson in August Wilson’s Two Trains Running in 1992, The following year, he an earned an Emmy for his performance as Martin in Tribeca, and in 1994 he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Ike Turner in What’s Love Got To Do With It. He also later received Emmy noms for Thurgood and Miss Evers’ Boys, the latter of which he executive produced.
Fishburne can currently be seen in ABC’s hit series Black-ish, which he also executive produces, and he recently appeared in Hannibal and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. On the film side, he will next be seen in upcoming Warner Bros. film Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. His other film credits include Boyz n the Hood; Rumble Fish, The Cotton Club, Gardens of Stone, The Color Purple, School Daze, the Matrix movies; Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River and Emilio Estevez’s Bobby.
The event series is being written by Lawrence Konner (Boardwalk Empire), Mark Rosenthal (Mona Lisa Smile), Alison McDonald (Alpha House) and Charles Murray (Sons of Anarchy). Vickie Thomas (The Hateful Eight, 42, Django Unchained) is casting director.
Roots is an A+E Studios production in association with Marc Toberoff and The Wolper Organization, the company that produced the original Roots. Will Packer, Marc Toberoff, Marc Wolper, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal serve as executive producers. LeVar Burton and Korin Huggins are co-executive producers. A+E Networks is distributing internationally under the A+E Studios International banner.