PBS’ popular “Finding Your Roots” series, temporarily shelved after an episode omitted references to the slaveholding past of Ben Affleck’s ancestor at the actor’s request, will return to public television for its third season in January.
The show has hired a new fact-checker and two new genealogists as part of its reforms, said the network’s Beth Hoppe on Monday. PBS had suspended the series after determining that the show’s producers violated standards by allowing Affleck undue influence on its content and failing to inform the network of his request.
“It has become a more transparent process and a more rigorous process,” Hoppe said, “but essentially at its core these are personal stories about people who are finding out about their histories. That hasn’t changed.”
“Finding Your Roots,” which is hosted and written by Henry Louis Gates Jr., returns on Jan. 5. Julianne Moore, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Sen. John McCain and television producers Norman Lear and Shonda Rhimes are among the 28 new celebrities whose backgrounds are traced.
Given the sensitivity of the Affleck case, the series makes certain to mention if its experts find slaveholding backgrounds for any of the celebrities featured this season, even if that isn’t a central part of the story being told, Hoppe said. That’s the case with several people in the new season, but PBS would not reveal which ones.
Hoppe said Gates has done everything PBS has asked to ensure the show has no further problems.