Actor Laurence Fishburne will play Alex Haley in A&E Networks’ reboot of Haley’s classic African-American novel Roots, History Channel’s executive vice president and general manager Dirk Hoogstra announced last week.
The remake of Haley’s 1976 novel centered around Kunta Kinte, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, and miniseries that followed, will be simulcast on three of the network’s channels — A&E, History, and Lifetime — next year.
In the 1970s series, James Earl Jones played the late Haley. The celebrated author died in 1992.
“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. The narrative spans multiple generations, beginning 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.
The scripted event series is an A+E Studios production in association with Marc Toberoff and the Wolper Organization, the company that produced the original miniseries. Will Packer, Toberoff, Marc Wolper, Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal serve as executive producers. LeVar Burton and Korin Huggins are co-executive producers. Konner, Rosenthal, Alison McDonald, and Charles Murray are writing. Hoogstra, Arturo Interian and Michael Stiller serve as executives in charge of production for History. “Roots” is distributed internationally by A+E Networks under the A+E Studios International banner.
In a June 2015 interview with Vulture, co-executive producer LeVar Burton (who also starred as Kunta Kinte in the 1977 miniseries), spoke on the importance of the story to American culture.
“Roots and the conversation it sparked culturally became a part of the fabric of America. There was an America before Roots, and there was an America after Roots. And the country was really forever changed … Roots was one of the first opportunities we had to see our story, our journey in America told through our own eyes,” he said.
Fishburne can currently be seen playing the ornery father of comedian Anthony Anderson on ABC’s hit show Black-ish.