TVNZ Drags the Chain With Roots Reboot?

Forty years ago Kiws were among the last in the world to see the legendary miniseries Roots and may be at the back of the bus for this year’s re-make, too.

TVNZ is one of more than 50 broadcasters that has licensed the new version of Alex Haley’s best-seller, which will be simulcast across History, A&E and Lifetime in the US from May 30 ahead of a five-continent roll-out.

But at this stage it looks as if TV One won’t be screening the eight-hour dramatisation until July, in the network’s 8.30 Sunday premium drama slot.

In an era of global TV “events” like Roots, and shows like Contagion, The Walking Dead and Empire screening within days of the US, it’s surprising TVNZ isn’t opting to screen it the same week as the States.

But at least this will be an improvement on what happened in the late 1970s, when Kiwis had to wait years after the US broadcast of the original to see it because of a licensing spat between TVNZ and distributor MCA.

The re-make’s cast includes True Blood’s Anna Paquin, Downton Abbey’s Matthew Goode, The Following’s James Purefoy, The Tudors’ Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Forest Whitaker and, as slave hero Kunta Kinte, Malachi Kirby.

Laurence Fishburne will play Haley, whose family history inspired Roots, while the original Kunta Kinte, LeVar Burton, is one of the re-make’s producers.

Among the directors are Australians Bruce Beresford (Breaker Morant, Driving Miss Daisy) and Phillip Noyce (Salt, Rabbit-Proof Fence).

“The incredible reaction we experienced at our World Premiere Screening of Roots was matched on the sales floor at MIPTV,” said Sean Cohan, the president of international and digital at A+E Networks.

“I am thrilled that our company’s ambitious creative efforts, premium storytelling and betting on projects like this one continue to gain partners and scores of fans across the globe.”

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One Response to “TVNZ Drags the Chain With Roots Reboot?”

  1. Really looking forward to this one. I hope you’re right Philip and TVNZ does fast track it, they can’t repeat the same mistake.

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