The Return of Reading Rainbow?

After an eight year hiatus, “Reading Rainbow” appears to be returning.

LeVar Burton was determined to bring the show back and he went to the site Kickstarter to help raise the necessary funds for production. Burton and his crew sought to raise a cool $1 million and did so — in just 11 hours.

“Reading Rainbow” premiered in 1983 and used the medium of television to stress to children the importance of reading. The show didn’t just portray reading as some bland activity only to be done in relation to school work, but also emphasized the power of imagination and just how much one could ascertain from reading consistently.

Since its Kickstarter debut, proceeds for a “Reading Rainbow” reboot have raised more than $3.5 million. As the show’s host and most recognizable face, LeVar Burton, has pointed out these contributions show not only the strength of the “Reading Rainbow” brand, but also the soft spot that many people well into their 20s and 30s still have for the program. I certainly have fond memories of “Reading Rainbow” and am glad that it’s entering a new realm.

LeVar Burton has pointed out that the money donated towards “Reading Rainbow” will help it adapt to kids post the millennial generation. That means apps geared towards tablets and phones and the web. While a television may have been enough to reach kids in the 80s and 90s, times done changed and I’m glad to see Mr. Burton realizes that as much as anyone. Looking forward to this.

Actors Discuss Legacy of Roots

With the film “12 Years A Slave” debuting this week, I figured it was a good time to revisit a panel discussion I shot earlier this year revolving around one of the most prominent depictions of slavery in media.

From left to right: Levar Burton, Louis Gosset Jr., Leslie Uggams, and Ben Vereeen

The panel featured actors who played pivotal roles in the TV mini-series “Roots” that premiered in 1977 and was shown on BET last winter. “Roots” was really the first program to explore the challenges, horrors, and triumphs within the realm of American slavery. It was an eye opening experience for millions of people and really helped shed a light on America’s ‘original sin.’ Actors Lou Gosset Jr., Ben Vereen, Leslie Uggams and Levar Burton, spoke on the significance of “Roots,” their roles in it, and how “Roots” continues to educate more than 30 years later.

The panel was a part of a larger series called ‘Changing the Picture’ at the Museum of the Moving Image this past February, which highlighted the works of people of color in the film and television industry.