Leslie Uggams, LeVar Burton, Ben Vereen, Louis Gossett, Roots
Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress, singer, and recording artist Leslie Uggams, along with actors LeVar Burton, Ben Vereen, and Louis Gossett, Jr., will make several appearances on February 4 and 5 in conjunction with the February 5 PBS airing of a Pioneers of Television segment which examines three early miniseries including the legendary ROOTS. As four of the stars of ROOTS, based on Alex Haley's novel "ROOTS: The Saga of an American Family," Uggams, Burton, Vereen and Gossett, Jr. will discuss their involvement in this ground-breaking television series and the impact it still has 36 years later.
On Monday, February 4 at 7 p.m., the cast members will participate in "Making Roots, and Making TV History," a discussion at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY. David Thoms, VP of Programming at PBS, will moderate. On Tuesday, February 5 at 8 p.m. the Pioneers of Television segment - featuring the miniseries ROOTS, The Thorn Birds, and Rich Man, Poor Man - will air. The stars will also be making appearances on various national radio and television talk shows during the week.
ROOTS, winner of the Golden Globe for Best Television Series Drama, debuted in 1977 and broke all existing viewer ratings. The final episode was watched by 100 million viewers and still ranks as the third most watched television episode of all time. For her stirring portrayal of Kizzy in the series, Uggams earned Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and a Critics Choice Award. Burton and Vereen were also nominated for Emmys for their performances as Kunta Kinte and Chicken George, respectively. Gossett, Jr. won the Emmy for his eloquent portrayal of Fiddler.
ROOTS forever changed American television. For the first time, TV viewers both white and black experienced a part of American history through the eyes of slaves. Today slavery is still an issue that has a strong presence in popular culture, as illustrated by the recent films Lincoln and Django Unchained. As the nation celebrates Black History Month in February, ROOTS serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of keeping discussions of that time in history alive.
"Making Roots, and Making TV History" is presented by the Museum of the Moving Image in collaboration with PBS' Pioneers of Television. The museum is located at 36-01 35 Avenue, Astoria. Tickets are $15 for the general public and $9 for museum members. They may be purchased online at www.movingimage.us or by calling 718-777-6800.