The History Channel is setting up a remake of the historic 1977 mini-series Roots, one of the most celebrated and highest-rated programs of all time. Filmmaker Allen Hughes (The Book of Eli, Broken City) has signed on to direct and executive produce the mini-series, which is expected to get an official order from History very soon. History acquired the rights to Roots back in November 2013 from Mark Wolper, the son of late Roots producer David L. Wolper, along with the rights to the original book Roots: The Saga Of An American Family from the estate of author Alex Haley.
The original mini-series followed the plight of Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton), who is taken from his family in West Africa and sold into slavery in America. John Amos, Louis Gossett Jr., Vic Morrow, Chuck Connors and Edward Asner also starred in the 12-hour series. The final episode was watched by an estimated 100 million viewers, with anywhere between 130 million to 140 million tuning in for the entire eight-episode run, which represented more than half of the American population in 1977 (221 million).
Mark Rosenthal and Lawrence Konner (Planet of the Apes) are writing the scripts for the mini-series, with Deadline reporting that History is pleased with what they have read so far. Allen Hughes and Mark Wolper are executive producing alongside Marc Toberoff, although it isn't clear when production may begin. The remake comes at a time when slavery has been a popular topic in movies, with recent hits such as Django Unchained and last year's Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave, not to mention films about African-American history such as Lee Daniels' the Butler and this year's awards season favorite Selma. On the small screen, African-American-centric shows are more popular than ever, following the success of Black-Ish, How to Get Away with Murder and Empire.