A Roots Cast

A Roots Cast

Roots Cast


A girl. A boy. Their love story. One, two, three generations. Can a story go back and forth in time, concentric circles that split at infinite infinities?


The ship eventually arrives in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1767, where the captured Africans are sold at auction as slaves. John Reynolds (Lorne Greene), a plantation owner from Spotsylvania County, Virginia, near Fredericksburg, buys Kunta and gives him the Christian name Toby. Reynolds assigns an older slave, Fiddler (Louis Gossett Jr.), to teach Kunta English and train him in the ways of servitude. Although Kunta gradually warms up to Fiddler, he wants to preserve his Mandinka (and Islamic) heritage, and he defiantly refuses to eat pork. (Source:

1776, the adult Kunta Kinte (John Amos), still haunted by his Mandinka roots and desire for freedom, tries again to escape, but a pair of slave-catchers hobble him by chopping off almost half his right foot with a hatchet. Exasperated, John Reynolds decides to sell Kunta, which will also settle a debt with his brother Dr. William Reynolds (Robert Reed), the local physician. John transfers several of his slaves, including Fiddler, to William. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

An adulterous relationship between Dr. William Reynolds and John Reynolds' wife (Lynda Day George) produces a daughter, Missy Anne (Sandy Duncan), whom John believes is his own. Missy Anne and Kizzy become playmates and best friends despite the social confines of Southern plantation culture. Missy Anne secretly teaches Kizzy to read and write, a skill forbidden to human chattel. In 1806, Kizzy (Leslie Uggams), now in her teen years, falls in love with Noah (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), a spirited slave who attempts to flee North with a "traveling pass" forged by Kizzy. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

After the war several local white men, led by Evan Brent and wearing white hoods (made from fabric sacks from Evan's store) begin to harass and terrorize Tom, his family, and other members of his community. Tom emerges as the leader among his group. As the local blacksmith, Tom devises a horseshoeing method to identify the horses involved in the raids by the hooded men. But when Tom reports his suspicions and his evidence to the sheriff (John Quade), who is in sympathy with Evan and knows every member of the white mob, the sheriff tips off Evan. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

The miniseries was directed by Marvin J. Chomsky, John Erman, David Greene, and Gilbert Moses. It was produced by Stan Margulies. David L. Wolper was executive producer. The score was composed by Gerald Fried, and Quincy Jones for only the first episode. ABC television executives "got cold feet" after seeing the brutality depicted in the series and attempted to cut the network's predicted losses by airing the series over eight consecutive nights in January in one fell swoop. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

Bobby Bruce, Erno Neufeld, Gerald Vinci, Harry Bluestone, Irv Katz, Janice Gower, John Santulis, Joseph Livoti, Joe Stepansky, Ralph Shaeffer, Bob Sushell, Sheldon Sanov, Bill Nuttycomb − violin (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

Alexandra Brown, Caiphus Semenya, Deborah Tibbs, Jim Gilstrap, John Lehman, Linda Evans, Paulette McWilliams, Reverend James Cleveland, Stephanie Spruill – vocals (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

Bill Summers, Caiphus Semenya, Dave Grusin, Herb Spencer, John Mandel, Reverend James Cleveland, Dick Hazard, Tommy Bahler – arrangers (Source: en.wikipedia.org The four-night, eight-hour event series premiered on Memorial Day, May 30, 2016. The ensemble cast includes Forest Whitaker as Fiddler, Anna Paquin as Nancy Holt, Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Tom Lea, Anika Noni Rose as Kizzy, Tip "T.I." Harris as Cyrus, Emayatzy Corinealdi as Bell, Matthew Goode as Dr. William Waller, Mekhi Phifer as Jerusalem, James Purefoy as John Waller, introduces Regé-Jean Page as Chicken George and Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte, and Laurence Fishburne as Alex Haley. (Source:en.wikipedia.org))

Kunta and Jinna are sold to the Lord Ligonier, a slave ship, with other Mandinkas, including Kunta's uncle, Silla. While boarding the ship, Silla attempts to escape, but is shot in the arm and restrained. Kunta and Silla are then chained in the brig of the ship with hundreds of other captives. One day, Jinna tries to jump off the ship, but is caught and taken to the captain, possibly to be raped. This provokes the other captives, and to prevent a mutiny, the ship's crew have Silla's arm cut off, not only because of it being infected by the gunshot, but also to intimidate the other prisoners. Despite this, Kunta is still able to start an uprising, but it is suppressed, and the captives are transported across the Atlantic Ocean to Annapolis, Maryland, where he is sold to John Waller (James Purefoy), who owns a tobacco plantation in Virginia. Kunta is renamed Toby, and put under the care of a musician slave called Fiddler, whose real name is Henry (Forest Whitaker). Throughout the months, Kunta tries to adapt to life on the plantation, but still thinks about escape. One night, while singing a song from his homeland, Fiddler reveals that he once heard his grandmother singing the same song, implying that she was a Mandinka that was kidnapped from Africa. Kunta then is able to obtain a sharp object to cut the chains that restrain him. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

Kunta and Henry are sent to the farm of Dr. William Waller (Matthew Goode), in payment for his brother John Waller's debts. One year later, the Revolution ends and the United States celebrates its independence. Kunta marries Belle (Emayatzy Corinealdi), a beautiful slave woman who nursed him back to health, and they have a daughter. Fiddler and Kunta take the baby into the woods for a Mandinka naming ceremony. They are suddenly surrounded by a slave patrol, which Fiddler distracts so Kunta and the baby can slip away. This results in Fiddler's murder. Kunta names the baby Kizzy, which means "stay put" in hopes of keeping their family together. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

and Paul Buccieri, president of A&E and The History Channels, announced that the four night, 8-hour event series would premiere on Memorial Day, May 30, 2016. The ensemble cast includes Forest Whitaker as Fiddler, Anna Paquin as Nancy Holt, Lane Garrison as Frederick Murray, Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Tom Lea, Anika Noni Rose as Kizzy, Tip Harris as Cyrus, Emayatzy Corinealdi as Belle, Matthew Goode as Dr. William Waller, Mekhi Phifer as Jerusalem, James Purefoy as John Waller, introduces Regé-Jean Page as Chicken George and Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte, South African actress Nokuthula Ledwaba as Binta Kinte – Kunta Kinte's mother and Laurence Fishburne as Alex Haley. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

The entire Reconstruction era story seen in the 1977 series is omitted in the re-make. Tom Harvey (aka Murray)'s brother Lewis, who was a major character in the final episode of the 1977 series, does not appear in the remake (dialogue states he was sold to another plantation years before). The original series characters "Old George" (played by Brad Davis) and Sheriff Biggs (played by John Quade) also do not appear in the 2016 series. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

Gary Megregian, Stuart Martin, Andrew Dawson, Steve M. Stuhr, Jason Krane, Christian Buenaventura, Timothy A. Cleveland, Paul Diller, John Snider, Marcello Dubaz, Michael Sana, Daniel Salas, Matt Shelton, Noel Vought, Ginger Geary (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

John Amos (Kunta Kinte as an adult): I was on the freeway and this big brother pulls up next to me in this piece of ancient Detroit steel. He said, “Man, pull over!” So I pulled the car over. He said, “Hey, man, I watched that ‘Roots’ on TV last night, man. Man, it really affected me… I was halfway through it and I went and got my .38 and I went and shot the TV!” That was the funniest thing that happened. I hope he wasn’t looking for me to reimburse him. [laughs] (Source: www.latimes.com)

A chat with the cast of the original “Roots,” including John Amos, Lynne Moody, Ben Vereen, Leslie Uggams, Georg Stanford Brown, Louis Gossett Jr. and Sandy Duncan. (Source: www.latimes.com Now: The original members of the TV show “Roots,” pictured on May 11, 2016: John Amos, left, Lynne Moody, Ben Vereen, Leslie Uggams, Georg Stanford Brown, Louis Gossett Jr., Sandy Duncan. Here are some photos from their roles in 1977 and now. (Source:www.latimes.com))

Oprah Winfrey welcomes the cast of Roots to her California home as she marks the 35th anniversary of the mini-series that captivated the nation, set ratings records and changed the way Americans thought about their history. Her legendary guests include Cicely Tyson, LeVar Burton, John Amos, Leslie Uggams, Louis Gossett Jr. and Ben Vereen where they recount how Americans came together as never before. (Source: alexhaley.com)

Did Roots open the door to a greater conversation about race in America? Watch as John Amos, Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen and Louis Gossett Jr. discuss why that door needs to be opened wider and where they think the country is today. (Source: alexhaley.com)

John Amos was already known as James Evans from Good Times by the time he became the adult Kunta Kinte in Roots. Since then, he has guest starred in numerous television shows and costarred in several films, including Coming to America. (Source: www.pinterest.com Beverly Todd (born July 11, 1946) is an American actress, producer and writer. She is known for her roles in films Brother John (1971), Moving (1988), Lean on Me (1989) and The Bucket List (2007). ... (Source:www.ranker.com))

John Allen Amos Jr. (born December 27, 1939) is an American actor known for his roles as James Evans, Sr. on the CBS television series Good Times and in the 1977 miniseries, Roots, for which he ... (Source: www.ranker.com)

Ralph Waite (June 22, 1928 – February 13, 2014) was an American actor and political activist, best known for his role as John Walton, Sr. on The Waltons (1972–1981), which he occasionally directed. ... (Source: www.ranker.com)

Robert Reed (born John Robert Rietz Jr.; October 19, 1932 – May 12, 1992) was an American actor. He played Kenneth Preston on the legal drama The Defenders from 1961 to 1965 alongside E. G. Marshall, ... (Source: www.ranker.com)


The landmark dramatization of Alex Haley's classic saga followed his ancestors from Africa into slavery and then to their freedom in the post-Civil War South. Americans watched in record numbers as the epic aired on eight consecutive nights and went on to receive an unprecedented 37 Emmy nominations (winning for nine, including Outstanding Limited Series). Haley wrote in TV Guide: ' 'Roots' speaks of the American human drama, in which ancestrally we all came from somewhere across the ocean.'

This article is about the 1977 miniseries. For the novel it is based on, see Roots: The Saga of an American Family. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

Roots is an American television miniseries based on Alex Haley's 1976 novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family. The series first aired on ABC in January 1977. Roots received 37 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and won nine. It also won a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award. It received unprecedented Nielsen ratings for the finale, which holds the record as the third-highest-rated episode for any type of television series, and the second-most watched overall series finale in U.S. television history. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

A sequel, Roots: The Next Generations, first aired in 1979, and a second sequel, Roots: The Gift, a Christmas television film, starring Burton and Louis Gossett Jr., first aired in 1988. A related film, Alex Haley's Queen, is based on the life of Queen Jackson Haley, who was Alex Haley's paternal grandmother. (Source: en.wikipedia.org Kunta makes several unsuccessful attempts to escape, first breaking his leg chain with a broken tool blade he finds half buried in a field. After this attempt the overseer, Ames (Vic Morrow), gathers the slaves and directs "James" to whip Kunta until he acknowledges his new name "Toby". Fiddler comforts the bloody-backed Kunta, consoling "there will be another day". For events that occur in 1775, between the above period and the post–Revolutionary War, where the next section begins, see Roots: The Gift. (Source:en.wikipedia.org))

1776, the adult Kunta Kinte (John Amos), still haunted by his Mandinka roots and desire for freedom, tries again to escape, but a pair of slave-catchers hobble him by chopping off almost half his right foot with a hatchet. Exasperated, John Reynolds decides to sell Kunta, which will also settle a debt with his brother Dr. William Reynolds (Robert Reed), the local physician. John transfers several of his slaves, including Fiddler, to William. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

George retells part of the story from Kunta Kinte in Africa to himself in Tennessee. Then Alex Haley briefly narrates a montage of photographs of family members connecting Tom's daughter, Cynthia, a great-great-granddaughter of Kunta Kinte, to Haley himself. For the continuation of the story from the late 19th century into the 20th century, see Roots: The Next Generations. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

Familiar television actors like Lorne Greene were chosen for the white, secondary roles, to reassure audiences. The white actors were featured disproportionately in network previews. For the first episode, the writers created a conscience-stricken slave captain (Edward Asner), a figure who did not appear in Haley's novel but was intended to make white audiences feel better about their historical role in the slave trade. Even the show's consecutive-night format allegedly resulted from network apprehensions. ABC programming chief Fred Silverman hoped that the unusual schedule would cut his network's imminent losses—and get Roots off the air before sweeps week. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

Allmusic's Richard S. Ginell said "Quincy Jones has been threatening to write a long tone poem sketching the history of black music for decades now, and he has yet to do it. This project, rushed out in the wake of the 1977 TV mini-series Roots, is about as close as he has come. A brief (28 minutes) immaculately-produced and segued suite, Roots quickly traces a timeline from Africa to the Civil War, incorporating ancient and modern African influences (with Letta Mbulu as the featured vocalist), a sea shanty, field hollers, and fiddle tunes, snippets of dialogue from Roots actor Lou Gossett, and some Hollywood-style movie cues. ... Though some prominent jazzers turn up in the orchestra, there is not a trace of jazz to be heard. This is a timely souvenir of a cultural phenomenon, but merely a curiosity for jazz fans". (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

Following the success of the original novel and the miniseries, Haley was sued by author Harold Courlander, who asserted that Roots was plagiarized from his own novel The African, published nine years prior to Roots in 1967. The resulting trial ended with an out-of-court settlement and an admission from Haley that certain passages within Roots had been copied from Courlander's work. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

After a five-week trial in federal district court, Courlander and Haley settled the case with a financial settlement and a statement that "Alex Haley acknowledges and regrets that various materials from The African by Harold Courlander found their way into his book, Roots." (Source: en.wikipedia.org During the trial, Alex Haley had maintained that he had not read The African before writing Roots. Shortly after the trial, however, a minority studies teacher at Skidmore College, Joseph Bruchac, came forward and swore in an affidavit that he had discussed The African with Haley in 1970 or 1971 and had given his own personal copy of The African to Haley, events that took place well before publication of Roots. (Source:en.wikipedia.org))

Roots originally aired on ABC for eight consecutive nights from January 23 to 30, 1977. In the United Kingdom, BBC One aired the series in six parts, starting with parts 1 to 3 over the weekend of April 8 to 11, 1977. The concluding three parts were broadcast on Sunday nights, from April 15 to May 1. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

On February 16–18, 2013, in honor of Black History Month and the 36th anniversary of Roots, cable network BET aired both Roots and its sequel miniseries, Roots: The Next Generations. Celebrating the 35th anniversary of Roots, BET premiered the miniseries on a three-day-weekend showing in December 2012, which resulted in its being seen by a total of 10.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen ratings, and became the number-one Roots telecast in cable-television history. As for the BET network, its 35th-anniversary airing of Roots became its best "non-tentpole" weekend in the network's history. On Sunday, October 18, 2015, TVOne rebroadcast Roots in high definition. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

Roots is a 2016 American miniseries and a remake of the 1977 miniseries with the same name, based on Alex Haley's 1976 novel, Roots: The Saga of an American Family. It first aired on May 30, 2016 and stars Malachi Kirby, Forest Whitaker, Regé-Jean Page, Anna Paquin, Laurence Fishburne, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Anika Noni Rose, T.I. and South African actress Nokuthula Ledwaba. It was produced on a budget of $50 million. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

Meanwhile, George and another black man named Cyrus (T.I.) join the Union Army. They participate in the Battle of Fort Pillow, and watch horrified when surrendering black troops are massacred. George, Cyrus, and Tom flee pursuing Confederate bushwhackers and return to the Murray plantation to learn that all the slaves have been freed by the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Kinte Family stays for a time as sharecroppers, continuing to work the Murray Plantation in exchange for livestock and food. Once George returns to the Murray Plantation, he, Cyrus, Tom, Matilda and the rest of their family pack up their belongings and head to Tennessee to start a new life. When Frederick threatens them, George shoots him. Once in Tennessee, Tom and his wife have a daughter, the first Kinte born free in America. Many years later, a man named Alex Haley traces his roots to Kunta Kinte and writes a book to honor both his family and all those descended from African slaves. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

In April 2015, it was announced that along with The History Channel, Lifetime and A&E would also broadcast the remake of the Roots miniseries. Will Packer, Marc Toberoff and Mark Wolper will executive produce it alongside Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal. LeVar Burton, star of the original series, and Korin Huggins will co-executive produce it. (Source: en.wikipedia.org When Kunta is sold in Annapolis, the original slave who takes him back to the Virginia plantation is named Sampson (this matches the original book Roots). Fiddler only enters Kunta's life after Sampson is disciplined and sold for letting Kunta escape. (Source:en.wikipedia.org))

The names of the white masters in the 2016 series revert to their original names from the book Roots, specifically Reynolds, Moore, and Harvey become Waller, Lea, and Murray. The two Waller masters, who are brothers both in the 1977 and 2016 series, are depicted as far more vicious and racist men than in the original series. (Source: en.wikipedia.org The later series also shows George's final meeting with his white father (which was a major segment in the book Roots) which was also only alluded to in the 1977 series. Chicken George is further shown joining the Union Army to fight in the Civil War after he leaves North Carolina. In the original series this was only alluded to with none of the Civil War action shown on screen. (Source:en.wikipedia.org))

The major antagonist during the Civil War era is Frederick Murray, the racist son of the Murray plantation owner. In the original series, this character was the town general store owner Evan Brent. The 2016 series also includes a sub-plot, not in the original series or the book Roots, where the mistress of Frederick Murray is a Union spy working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. (Source: en.wikipedia.org)

In the United States, Roots aired in four installments of approximately two hours each, from May 30 to June 2, 2016, on History, A&E, and Lifetime. (Source: en.wikipedia.org Roots received critical acclaim, with praise for the acting abilities of the cast, the faithfulness to the original, and the modern changes. On Rotten Tomatoes, the series has a rating of 98%, based on 41 reviews, with an average rating of 8.31/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A powerfully impressive – and still relevant – update on a television classic, Roots boasts remarkable performances, deep emotion, and occasionally jarring beauty." (Source:en.wikipedia.org))



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