“ROOTS: The Gift”

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 “ROOTS” miniseries.

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 Parker household.

“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 name, “Toby.”

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 Ambition.”

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 an actress.

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 the Train.”

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 movie fan.

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