In “ROOTS: The Gift,” a two-hour movie
for television from David L. Wolper Productions, Inc. in association with
Warner Bros. Television, Oscar-and-Emmy winner Louis Gossett, Jr. and LeVar
Burton reprise their critically acclaimed roles from the highly successful
In this telefeature, which is based on
an idea and characters by “ROOTS” author Alex Haley, Gossett again portrays
the seasoned plantation slave, Fiddler, and Burton will be seen as Kunta
Kinte, the young African who was captured and sold into slavery in America.
Avery Brooks plays a new character, Moyer, a freed slave who affects the
lives of both Fiddler and Kunta.
Also appearing in the movie are Kate Mulgrew
as Hattie Carraway, the female leader of a group of men who capture slaves
for money; Shaun Cassidy as Edmund Parker, Jr., a young man critical of
the ways of slavery; John McMartin as Edmund Parker, Sr., the owner of
a large plantation; Jerry Hardin as Dr. Reynolds the pompous master of
Fiddler’s plantation; Annabella Price who plays Cassidy’s sister Sarah
Renshaw; Brandy Brown as Arabella, Sarah’s 9-year-old daughter who befriends
Kunta; Tim Russ as Marcellus, the black houseman of the Parker plantation;
Jimmie F. Skaggs as Scarvie, the cruel overseer of the plantation; and
special guest star Michael Learned as Amelia Parker, the mistress of the
“ROOTS: The Gift” takes place in 1770,
three years after Kunta Kinte’s unsuccessful escape attempt that led to
the punishment of a merciless whipping until he was forced to say his slave
Fiddler and Kunta are still on the Reynolds
plantation. Fiddler has accepted his life as a slave, but Kunta remains
the rebellious one who never loses his desire to be free.
It is the holiday season, and Dr. Reynolds
takes Fiddler and Kunta to the neighboring Parker plantation to help with
the chores in preparation for a large Christmas ‘celebration.
While at the Parker plantation, Kunta meets
Moyer a freed slave who has been brutally recaptured by the Carraway gang
because of his part in the escape of slaves.
Moyer is chained at the leqs and in an
antler collar, and Kunta brings him food and water. He listens wide-eyed
as Moyer talks about freedom for the black man and the white people who
help slaves escape.
Moyer asks Kunta to go to a certain meeting
place to tell his contact that he has been captured and that another guide
must be found to help the runaways. Kunta grasps at this opportunity, but
unfamiliar with the area, implores Fiddler for assistance. Fiddler, who
has never known freedom, protests the request fearing they would surely
be captured and hanged.
Following a humiliating experience at the
rehearsal for the Christmas pageant and witnessing the hanging of three
innocent slaves, Fiddler agrees to help Kunta and the other slaves with
their attempt to find their way to freedom.
David L. Wolper and Bernard Sofronski are
the executive producers; Kevin Hooks is the director. D.M. Eyre, Jr. wrote
the teleplay based upon characters from the novel “ROOTS,” created by Alex
Haley. Mark M Wolper serves as producer.
David L. Wolper is the renowned filmmaker,
whose credits include the miniseries “ROOTS,” “The Thorn Birds” and “North
and South.” He also executive produced the opening and closing ceremonies
of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and the gala Liberty Weekend celebrating
the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.
Sofronski is responsible for presenting
some of the highest rated “docudramas” ever while a vice president of specials
at CBS. His shows include “Playing For Time,” “Bill,” “The Bunker,” “Guyana
Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones,” “Circle of Children,” “Stokie” and “Blind
Hooks, directing credits include “St. Elsewhere,”
“V,” “Hotel,” “The Pass -HBO Vietnam War Story,” “A Year in the Life,”
“Fame” and “China Beach.”
Haley began writing full time after retiring
from the U.S. Coast Guard. He sold stories to such magazines as Harpers,
The Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times Magazine. For several years
Haley wrote the “Playboy Interviews,” a feature he originated. His book,
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” sold over six million copies. After a
12-year period of research, “ROOTS” was published in 1976 and quickly became
the nation’s number one best seller.
D.M. Eyre’s credits include the feature
film, “Cattle Annie and Little Britches” and “Wolf son” and, most recently,
the HBO production of “Laguna Heat” and WB—TV’ s “What Price Victory.”
“ROOTS: The Gift” was filmed at The Burbank
Studios, local Los Angeles locations and in Nashville, Tennessee, at such
historical locations as The Hermitage, which was Andrew Jackson’s home,
and Cragfont, a historical home on a huge plantation, built in the 1790s
by the founder of Memphis, Tennessee.
“ROOTS,” the miniseries based on Alex Haley’s
best-selling book, aired in 1977 and comprised 12 hours of primetime programming
over eight consecutive nights. Over the course of the week, “ROOTS” averaged
an incredible 45 rating and 66 share, and it still remains as the highest
rated miniseries of all time. The series swept the Emmys that year, capturing
nine awards in all. This was followed by the also successful “ROOTS: The
Next Generations,” a 14-hour miniseries which aired in 1979, and won the
Emmy for Outstanding Limited Series.
KATE MULGREW (Hattie Carraway) - Kate Mulgrew
stars as Hattie Carraway, the female leader of a group of men who capture
slaves for money.
Mulgrew, one of eight children in her family,
says her introduction to poetry in the fifth grade inspired her to become
Unsuccessful in gaining admission to the
London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, Kate set her sights on Broadway.
To appease her father, she enrolled in
New York University, which at the time had embarked upon an experimental
partnership with the Stella Adler Conservatory. Immersed in Adler’s advanced
acting program, Kate eventually got an agent. Within two weeks, she landed
two roles -- Mary Ryan in the daytime serial, “Ryan’s Hope” and Emily in
“Our Town” at the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut.
After two years, Kate resigned from “Ryan’s
Hope” and threw herself blissfully into the unknown. She played Desdemona
in “Othello” at the Hartman Theatre in Stamford, Connecticut, and was subsequently
asked to play David Janssen’s mistress in the miniseries, “The Word.” She
then starred in her own series, “Mrs. Columbo.” After filming seven episodes
of that series, she went to Dublin to star with Richard Burton in the film
“Lovespell,” which was based on the epic story of Tristan and Isolde.
While rehearsing the part of Regina in
the play, “Another Part Of the Forest,” at the Seattle Repertory Theatre,
Kate met Robert Egan, then the associate director. They were married the
following summer. When Egan accepted a post at the Mark Taper Forum in
Los Angeles, they moved to Hollywood.
Kate has starred in the movie-for--television,
“A Time For Miracles”; the miniseries “The Manions of America,” and several
episodic television roles. Her film credits include “A Stranger Is Watching”
with Rip Torn, “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins” and “Throw Momma From
Her stage credits include roles in “Cat
On a Hot Tin Roof,” “The Ballard Of Soapysmith,” “The Misanthrope,” “Hedda
Gabler” and “The Real Thing.” She also appeared in two plays directed by
her husband, “Measure For Measure” and “The Film Society.”
Kate’s most recent success is a starring
role in the series “HeartBeat,” for Aaron Spelling Productions.
Kate has two sons, Ian, age 4 and Alexander,
3 years old. She enjoys entertaining, writing, is an avid reader and a