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Roots series opening

by Matt Delmont

By the time the first episode of Roots aired on January 23, 1977, Alex Haley’s book had sold over a million copies in hardcover, ABC had invested over $6 million in the production and marketing of Roots, and Roots’s producers had cast several white tele-vision stars to make white audiences comfortable watching a series about a black family in slavery. Despite all of this, there was still no guarantee that Roots would be a commercial successful television series. Fred Silverman, ABC’s director of programming, decided that ABC would take the unusual step of airing Roots on eight consecutive nights. “We are taking this unprecedented approach to airing a ‘Novel for Television’ to insure maximum impact and continuity for what has already proven to be one of the most important dramatic stories of our time,” Silverman said. “By creating an ‘eight-day-week’ for this unique presentation we can provide the same kind of story concentration that is the very nature of a novel. A work this exceptional, this eagerly awaited, not only allows but requires exceptional treatment.” Silverman and his colleagues later acknowledged that ABC aired Roots in an unprecedented “eight-day-week” to limit the damage if the series did not catch on with television audiences. Despite these concerns, millions of Americans tuned in to Roots and, after eight nights, the series claimed seven of the top ten spots on the list of the most viewed shows of all time.

roots

by anthonyscott

roots

Roots series opening

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Opening credits for 1977 TV miniseries Roots.

from Roots (1977)
Creator: ABC/David Wolper Productions
Distributor: ABC
Posted by Matt Delmont
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