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“Roots” Premiered May 23 At Lincoln Center In NYC

When it comes to remakes, LeVar Burton’s motto was that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

That was, he said, before he realized that Alex Haley’s “Roots” needed to be retold for today’s young people, who may not get the significance of the older film. That helped spur him to co-produce the History Channel’s reimagining of “Roots,” which stars Forrest Whitaker, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, T.I., Laurence Fishbourne and Anna Paquin.

“I am not a fan of remakes,” said the actor, who played the title role of Kunta Kinte in the 1977 miniseries. “I will be honest with that. I didn’t believe this would ever happen. I didn’t think it should happen necessarily, but then (executive producer) Mark Wolper convinced me that it needed to happen.”

Levar Burton

The result is a gripping account of Haley’s family line, charting his family’s beginnings in West Africa, surviving kidnapping, the Middle Passage and enduring slavery in the South.

“We need to share this with a new generation,” Burton said.

“Roots” held its premiere Monday night, with cast and crew like director Mario Van Peebles, Anika Noni Rose, Derek Luke, T.I., “The Walking Dead’s” Chad L. Coleman turning up for the screening and after party at Lincoln Center.

Roots Premiere

“This is more than just great network television,” Nancy Dubuc, president of A&E Networks said Monday. “It’s an incredible story of family, of strength, of perseverance and the conversation that unfortunately 40 years after it’s original premiere, we’re still having. We are very proud of the risk that we’re taking.”

“Roots” premieres on Memorial Day at 9 p.m. on the History Channel.

Hit the flip for more pics from the premiere:

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