Roots And Now “Hollywood Through The Back Door”

Levar Burton.

HELLO AMERICA!—As a producer and one who recently helmed a major public Saban Theatre reading of the play “I Feel Sin Comin’ On based on Michael St. John’s controversial book “Hollywood Through The Back Door,”  the announcement of a  reproduced version of the Alex Haley’s “Roots” seemed to be perfect timing.

So much so, I begged my friend, Michael St. John to allow me, Michael Plaster to pen this column concerning the David Wolper, (son of original exec. prod., David L.Wolper) announcement of his decision to add original cast member Levar Burton as one of the “Roots” executive producers on the newest version of the Haley saga.

Without a doubt when the original “Roots’ mini-series was aired, the country was in the throes of social change. It forced the public to face a part of our history which, at times, ignored or politely mentioned in our schools and college classes. “Roots” represented slave ships carrying black bodies, chained in the ship’s bottom, shackled to each other for ultimate sale upon landing in the new world.

“Hollywood Through The Back Door” pushes forward concentrating on a family of color and its young man, Sonny Lewis who has a dream of joining the world he sees with all of it glorious possibilities of creative expression. He refuses to be stopped or circumvented by old ways, thoughts, perceptions and ideas as to who he is as an artist, but simply a human being determined to play his own music and create his deeply felt images of the world he lives in as an actor and writer.

Sonny, a victim of rape at six years old, his escape from the KKK during his first years in college lead to his Greyhound bus jaunt to Hollywood. It opens the door to unbelievable challenges and Tinseltown experiences which include some of the most outrageous, famous and delightful characters and stars of our entertainment industry.

This is a sample of letters received about this wonderfully powerful saga which seems to be a perfect follow-up to the Alex Haley Roots journey.

Brian Summers

After reading Canyon News and the excerpt Games, Drugs, Rape & Rock Hudson, I couldn’t sleep all night for thinking about it. I was tossing and turning thinking about Michael St. John’s life in Hollywood. I confess sometimes I had wished I had been born in that time. I realize now that Mr. St. John was and is an extraordinarily brave man. I realize I have a long way to go, yet!

Hi, it’s Jane Todd

How did you not give up? What got you through those times when you were completely alone or/and the world was beating you down? A large part of our issues is that we haven’t had anyone who has been in our corner, supporting us, cheering us on……Did you have a person or people in your life that kept you going? Is that the main difference between surviving and realizing your dreams?

By Michael Plaster