Skip to comments.David Wolper, producer of 'Roots,' has died
Posted on 08/11/2010 11:37:46 AM PDT by Borges
David L. Wolper, whose 1977 miniseries Roots - a generational saga of an American family - became a landmark in television history, has died. He was 82.
Wolper's spokesman, Dale Olson, said Wolper died peacefully in his Beverly Hills home Tuesday evening while watching television with his wife Gloria. Olson said Wolper died of congestive heart disease and complications of Parkinson's disease.
During a long career, Wolper also produced the children's classic "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." But his TV work remained his best-known accomplishment, particularly "Roots," based on the best seller by Alex Haley. The ABC series was seen in whole or part by 130 million people - more than half the country - when it ran for eight nights in 1977.
"I make it happen," Wolper said in a 1999 Associated Press interview. "Who bought Alex Haley's book 'Roots' for TV? Me. I hired the director, hired the writer. I put them all together. I'm like the chef. If I mix all the ingredients right, it's going to taste terrific. If I don't, it's not going to come out good."
The miniseries chronicling of Kunta Kinte, enslaved as a teenager in 18th-century West Africa to be sold in America, and his descendants represented a different kind of family story, one told from the black perspective. It was based on Haley's novel, a Pulitzer Prize-winner that mixed accounts of his own ancestors with fiction.
(Excerpt) Read more at 8newsnow.com ...
“It was based on Haley’s novel, a Pulitzer Prize-winner that mixed accounts of his own ancestors with fiction.”
They’re finally adding in the “fiction” part, after decades of lies. Now to remove “mixed accounts of his own ancestors”.
Roots got it wrong from the opening scene. Slaves weren’t “captured” by white slave traders using nets. They were mostly purchased from the winners of waring black tribes - many of whom were Muslim. Somehow, that little detail always gets left out.
I remember the hoopla, but I never saw the series, I wonder how many of the white deaths and rapes at the hands of blacks result from that kind of message being constantly hammered into their consciousness over the last 45 years.
So now we start the next trifecta: TV producers. I wonder who the next two will be?
Any truth to the rumor that Alex Haley committed suicide when he found out he was adopted?
RIP Mr. Wolper.
I saw a guy on one of the trashy daytime “talk” shows (Jenny Jones, Springer, et al.) who claimed that he’d watch “Roots” so that he’d get angry enough to go out and hurt white people.
However, the real story that Haley lifted from a WHITE author is about as bad as that portrayed in “Roots”.
He then changed everything to match some fictional fantasy he had concocted about America's early history and slavery.
I don't believe that there is ONE SINGLE FACTUAL event, nor person, in the entire book, or movie.
Agree, I’m not quibbling over trivia, it was compelling to watch and a milestone in TV programming. RIP Mr. Wolper.
Some of the other actors in the mini-series from what I remember was O.J. and Mr. Brady. I remember O.J. being interviewed at the time (he was still in the NFL at the time and actually popular, a difficult picture for younger people to see) and saying that the toughest part about it was the scene when he was running after young Kunte Kinte and how Lavaar Burton was faster than him and they had to have him slow down so O.J. could catch up. It was a good series even if it was fictional.
I hadn’t gotten down to your post, but I was thinking EXACTLY the same thing. Just saw “WTD” the other day. What a bunch of pompous A-holes......
Lonesome Dove is the best miniseries ever produced for TV. Period. Nothing else is even close.
Is it true that Alex Haley was adopted?
As I heard it, a white author did actual research and included a number of non-fiction stories about African slaves in “The African” by Harold Courlander. Haley wrote a book, but it was soon apparent that “Roots” borrowed heavily from the original author.
I agree, it was a good series and was excellent TV. It was such a HUGE deal - our whole family watched it and it was fascinating.
Fast forward to present day and I realize the historical problems, but I accept it as a piece of fiction and think Mr Wolper did what he was good at - produce mini-series! Not to mention Wily Wonka!
Wasn’t he also connected to that Leonard Nimoy series “In Search of..”? I know I used to see his name attached to something like that.
I saw Roots on TV a couple of years ago. I laughed through most of it because it was so predictable and the writers made sure every white character was the stereotypical southern redneck. All slaveowners were evil-— Ed Asner and Robert Reed (Mr. Brady) were rapists. And Sandy Duncan’s character was the ditzy southern belle only interested in ballgowns.
Re: “ I remember the hoopla, but I never saw the series, I wonder how many of the white deaths and rapes at the hands of blacks result from that kind of message being constantly hammered into their consciousness over the last 45 years.”
I remember the big to-do about that series that I refused to watch — what a crock —
Some of our teachers made us watch it. Sure helped the ratings.
RE: “IIRC, Alex Haley stole the idea from another author who had written a book about Jewish families escaping the slavery of the Nazis.
He then changed everything to match some fictional fantasy he had concocted about America’s early history and slavery.
I don’t believe that there is ONE SINGLE FACTUAL event, nor person, in the entire book, or movie.”
Agree — no ‘facts’ in Roots —
It’s right up there with that other mess — “Dances with Wolves,” or, as my late father called it, “Dances with Facts.”
RE: “Lonesome Dove is the best miniseries ever produced for TV. Period. Nothing else is even close.”
What??? You didn’t like The Thorn Birds???? LOL
Just couldn’t get into it...... :-)
No one claimed ‘Dances With Wolves’ was anything but fiction.
RE: “No one claimed Dances With Wolves was anything but fiction.”
My late father, a huge fan of and expert on the timeframe this ‘story’ took place, said nothing rang true and though it may not have been presented as ‘fact’ by Hollwood, people who know better tend to be insulted when there are no real facts presented.
Then there’s the little matter of Kevin Costner’s lack of talent but that’s another story.
Wrong black guy, stupid. Scratch that comment.
It’s fiction from start to finish and fiction never lies. If you wanted fact watch a documentary on the period.
RE: “Its fiction from start to finish and fiction never lies. If you wanted fact watch a documentary on the period.”
I did not see the film. Many did, including my father, and found it laughable from reports here in Hollywood.
What’s your problem anyway? Kind of overly prickly over a simple comment I made about a movie. If you set a film or TV show or whatever in a certain timeframe and then nothing about it rings true, it seems a little silly. But hey, maybe that’s just ME.