Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the PBS series that explores race, culture and identity through the genealogy and genetics of some of America’s best-known personalities, amps up the star power in its five remaining episodes. In upcoming weeks, Professor Gates unveils surprising facts about The Avengers co-stars Robert Downey, Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson, Oscar nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal, Grammy-winning musician John Legend, comedian Margaret Cho, and actors Adrian Grenier and Michelle Rodriguez.
Finding Your Roots made headlines since it premiered on PBS last month. News that entertainer Harry Connick, Jr,’s privateer ancestor captained a ship called the Rattlesnake ("That’s badass," Connick exclaimed), that media icon Barbara Walters and education visionary Geoffrey Canada both had name changes in their families, and that award-winning actors and married couple Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon are also distant relatives fueled spirited national discussions about our shared history as Americans. Gates promises future reveals in the series that will keep viewers surprised and riveted.
In the following weeks, viewers will see the following:
- April 22: Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey, Jr., discover surprising diversity in their backgrounds, including Swedish royalty, Revolutionary War soldiers and Eastern European Jewish immigrants.
- April 29: Samuel L. Jackson, Condoleezza Rice and Ruth Simmons finally find out the truth about the white men hidden in their family trees.
- May 6: For Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Margaret Cho and Martha Stewart, our research teams travel around the globe to unearth the long-lost stories their immigrant ancestors left behind.
- May 13: John Legend, Wanda Sykes and Margarett Cooper learn about the extraordinary challenges faced by African American ancestors who became free before Emancipation – destinies that upset the status quo, with shocking consequences.
- May 20: In the series finale, we reveal that Michelle Rodriguez, Adrian Grenier and Linda Chavez share tangled Spanish colonial roots among the Native American, African and European people – from conquistadors to crypto-Jews – who made the New World.
Filmed on location across the United States, the series airs nationally Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on PBS through May 20 (check local listings). Additional information about the series, Professor Gates and the entire production team is available at PBS PressRoom.
Clips and interviews about upcoming episodes are available on request.
Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is a production of Kunhardt McGee Productions, Inkwell Films and WNET in association with Ark Media. WNET is the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21, New York’s public television stations and operator of NJTV. For nearly 50 years, WNET has been producing and broadcasting national and local documentaries and other programs for the New York community.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Stephen Segaller, Peter Kunhardt, and Dyllan McGee are executive producers of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Rachel Dretzin is senior producer. Leslie Asako Gladsjo is senior story editor.
Corporate funding is provided by The Coca-Cola Company, Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s and American Express. Additional funding is provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Ford Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Support is also provided by The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS.
New York’s WNET is America’s flagship public media outlet, bringing quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. The parent company of public television stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Noah Comprende and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and the new online newsmagazine MetroFocus.
About Kunhardt McGee Productions
For 24 years Kunhardt McGee Productions led by Peter Kunhardt and Dyllan McGee has been making documentary films about the people and ideas that have shaped our history. Most recently, the company co-produced Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2010), Looking for Lincoln (2009), Oprah's Roots (2007) and African American Lives 1 and 2 (2006 & 2008) for PBS. For HBO, Kunhardt McGee Productions produced Gloria: In Her Own Words (2011) and Emmy award-winning Teddy: In His Own Words (2010). Other notable works include This Emotional Life, Looking for Lincoln, In Memoriam, PT Barnum, The American President, Bobby Kennedy: In His Own Words, and JFK: In His Own Words. More information can be found at: www.kunhardtmcgee.com
About Inkwell Films
Inkwell Films was founded by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. to produce sophisticated documentary films about the African and African-American experience for a broad audience. Currently in production, Finding Your Roots, a 10-hour series for PBS. Most recently Inkwell Films has co-produced Black in Latin America (2011), Faces of America (2010), Looking for Lincoln (2009), African American Lives 2 (2008), Oprah’s Roots (2007), and African American Lives (2006), Inkwell Films is currently developing Many Rivers to Cross: The History of the African American People, a six-part series for PBS.
About Ark Media
Ark Media is a documentary film company founded in 1997 by the producing team of Barak Goodman and Rachel Dretzin. Ark's mission is to produce documentary films characterized by rigorous reporting, careful craft, and imaginative filmmaking. Ark partnered with Kunhardt-McGee Productions on the Henry Louis Gates Jr. series, Faces of America, (2010) and also with Kunhardt-McGee, produced Looking for Lincoln (2009) and the upcoming Makers project for PBS. For the last decade and a half, Ark has produced films primarily for the PBS series Frontline and American Experience, winning nearly every major broadcast award: the Emmy, DuPont-Columbia, Robert F. Kennedy, Writers Guild and Peabody Awards, as well as earning an Academy Award nomination and official selection to the Sundance Film Festival. Ark has also produced documentaries for the New York Times, American Movie Classics, ABC, and the History Channel. For more information, visit www.ark-media.net