The late May holiday has become History’s preferred launching pad for high-profile miniseries. Mega hit Hatfield & McCoys was first, debuting on Memorial Day 2012, followed by Texas Rising, which bowed on Memorial Day 2015.
For the air pattern of the four-night, eight-hour Roots, History is sticking to the model used for the six-hour Hatfield & McCoys, which aired on three consecutive nights. With the eight-hour Texas Rising, History tried a different approach — a two-night launch followed by a two-hour episode airing each the following two Mondays. The Roots release pattern also mirrors that of the iconic original miniseries, which ABC aired on eight consecutive nights in 1977.
Roots — a historical portrait of American slavery recounting the journey of one family and their will to survive and ultimately carry on their legacy despite hardship — stars newcomers Regé-Jean Page (“Chicken George”) and Malachi Kirby (“Kunta Kinte”), joined by Forest Whitaker (“Fiddler”), Anna Paquin (“Nancy Holt”), Laurence Fishburne (“Alex Haley”), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (“Tom Lea”), Anika Noni Rose (“Kizzy”), Tip “T.I.” Harris (“Cyrus”), Emayatzy Corinealdi (“Belle”), Matthew Goode (“Dr. William Waller”), Mekhi Phifer (“Jerusalem”), James Purefoy (“John Waller”) and Chad L. Coleman (“Mingo”).
“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.
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, Mark Wolper, Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal and Barry Jossen serve as executive producers. LeVar Burton and Korin D. Huggins are co-executive producers. Questlove is executive music producer. Roots is directed by Phillip Noyce, Mario Van Peebles, Thomas Carter and Bruce Beresford.