Spring 2016

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54 CINEMONTAGE / Q2 2016 MW: I was very involved in the editing of all four episodes. Typically, how it worked was that the editors finished their cuts and then the directors came in and worked with the editors. Then each editor and director would show it to me. When they had options and couldn't really decide which version they liked better, they would show me those versions and we'd all decide together. To a great degree, I think the producer's function is to protect the director and the editor from too many voices speaking and giving notes. There's a tendency, particularly in television, for that to happen and I think it's better to let the director and editor speak most loudly. And one more thing; our editors did a really kick-ass job on this show. CM: Your father, David L. Wolper, was a film pioneer and producer of the original Roots. What does his legacy bring to this new version? MW: In an odd way, I think that his spirit is on top of the whole project because of my connection to it. Anything that I learned from him growing up, anything that he spoke of, anything that was important to him clearly was at the front of my mind as I did this show. What would he think? What would he have said? The first question being: What would he have thought about the fact that I was doing it again? CM: What do you think that answer is? MW: I have no idea, and it's a frightening notion. I more easily know the answer to questions like: What kind of music would he like? How would he do a certain sequence? How would he negotiate with the network or the studio? My dad was a great politician. The answers to those questions were the easy things to follow. The harder one is: What would he think overall of the decision to make Roots again? And if he had seen and heard the same thing from his grandson that I heard from my son, I think he'd understand. f Rebooting CONTINUED FROM PAGE 41 into Night Four." The producers and studio were very supportive through it all, according to Mandelberg, who adds, "I'm very proud of Night Three of Roots; this movie is beautiful and powerful." Night Four David Beatty, Editor Susana Benaim, Assistant Editor Bruce Beresford, Director C losing out the miniseries, Night Four covers the Civil War, emancipation and reunification of the family. This episode runs the gamut from action/battle scenes with many extras to small, intimate scenes. And like the miniseries as a whole, it doesn't gloss over the violence, cruelty and brutality. "This episode definitely has some scenes that are graphic and emotionally difficult to cut, including a horrible massacre of black soldiers who had surrendered after the Battle of Fort Pillow," says editor David Beatty. "But it also has poignant, intimate scenes of Chicken George reuniting with his wife after a forced separation of 20 years." Beatty explains that when Chicken George is finally able to reunite with his wife, the reunion has to take place at a distance because the plantation owners will not allow them to physically be together for the first day. "They have to see each other from a great distance throughout the day, waiting until nighttime to be reunited," he adds. "It's actually a very moving, extended delay where they're so close, yet so far. It's a wonderful sequence. Then we get to see him reuniting with his surviving children. The emotional context is so poignant and winds up being a major theme in this night." Directed by Bruce Beresford, Night Four concludes with the character of Alex Haley going through the process of learning about his ancestors through writing the book Roots. "Our finale is a very moving moment," Beatty reveals. "Haley has the feeling of being reunited with his ancestry." The cutting style of Night Four is more conventional — and less stylized — than the other nights. "Bruce's taste as a filmmaker is more classical, almost striving for an invisible simplicity that just tells the story very well," says Beatty. Still, there is a lot of action that moves the story forward pretty dramatically, according to assistant editor Susana Benaim, who recently participated in the ACE internship program. "I would say it's more linear but absolutely appealing to a younger generation in terms of the content and the fact that there's very little we're holding back. I think that comes from a script and a crew that really wants to showcase what really happened in Alex Haley's world." RETELLING HISTORY Retelling Roots comes with a heavy burden and responsibility. This is not just a remake; rather, it's a retelling of a seminal television event that changed not only television but the nation. You want to do right by it. The collective hope is that it will reach a new generation and have its own form of timelessness. "We all dream of working on legacy projects, and this is a legacy project," comments Rexach. "This is something that I will always be proud to say I had a hand in crafting. I feel humbled to be here and honored to work on such an important story." This is a feeling undoubtedly shared by everyone on the new Roots. f 'Roots' CONTINUED FROM PAGE 39 Retelling Roots comes with a heavy burden and responsibility. This is not just a remake; rather, it's a retelling of a seminal television event that changed not only television but the nation.

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