TLC Announces Celebrity Contributors for the Spring Season of Who Do You Think You Are?

The following news release was received this morning. Click on the illustration to watch a video promoting the upcoming season.

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New season premieres Sunday, April 3 at 9/8c

The two-time Emmy nominated series WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? returns this spring to follow more of today’s most beloved and iconic celebrities as they embark on personal journeys of self-discovery to trace their family trees. The series continues to deliver unbelievable stories from crucial moments in history, including a number of firsts for the series, such as a male witch hunt, and traveling to Portugal, Sweden and Ellis Island. Executive Produced by Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky, the new season premieres Sunday, April 3 at 9/8c.

The contributors featured in the upcoming season include:

  • Scott Foley finds a relative who risked his life for one of America’s founding fathers, and an ancestor who suffered unspeakably during one of this nation’s darkest times.
  • Lea Michele nails down where her mysterious paternal ancestors came from, and learns of the dire economic circumstances they endured while trying to emigrate to the U.S.
  • Chris Noth learns his ancestors suffered during one of the greatest catastrophes in American history, and a relative who fought in one of the bloodiest battles of all time.
  • Molly Ringwald explores family lore of Swedish royalty which uncovers her ancestors’ harrowing lives and a brave woman who forever changed her family’s fate.
  • Katey Sagal is shocked to learn of her family’s Amish roots, and digs deeper as she realizes the level of dedication to their faith.
  • Aisha Tyler tracks down her 2x great-grandfather, whose story had been lost over generations, and uncovers an astonishing tale of a prominent ancestor whose struggle to keep his illegitimate son a secret made headlines.

Ancestry, the leading family history company, is teaming up again with TLC as a sponsor of the upcoming season. As part of the show sponsorship, Ancestry provides exhaustive family history research on each of the featured celebrities to help make discoveries possible and build out the story of each episode.

The series is produced for TLC by Shed Media and Is or Isn’t Entertainment, and is based on an original format created by Wall to Wall Media and Alex Graham. More information can be found at TLC.com/WDYTYA. ‘Like’ Who Do You Think You Are? on Facebook.com/WDYTYA and follow @WDYTYA on Twitter.

“Long Lost Family” to Debute on TLC March 6, at 10/9c

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Oh, good… Another genealogy show! And it looks like this one is also researched and sponsored by Ancestry.com.

The following excerpt is from a news items posted February 2, 2016 @ 11:39 am at thewrap.com:

Open a fresh box of Kleenex and flip over to TLC: The cable channel has ordered “Long Lost Family” to series.

The show features highly emotional and touching stories of people who have suffered a lifetime of separation and are yearning to be reunited with their birth parents and biological families. The reverse also applies on this reality show: Parents who wish to find children they had to place for adoption long ago.

Ancestry, the largest provider of family history and personal DNA testing, is teaming up with TLC as a sponsor of the upcoming season. As part of the show sponsorship, Ancestry provides family history research on each of the featured individuals to help make discoveries possible.

Read the full article.

$659K in Two Grants Given Out for Curriculums Based on PBS’ Finding Your Roots

The following excerpt is from an article posted October 31, 2015 at TheRoot.com:

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A new curriculum based on Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s popular PBS documentary series, Finding Your Roots, received two grants this week: one for $355,000 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to create Genetics and Genealogy Summer Camps for Middle School-Aged Youth; and one for $304,000 from the National Science Foundation to establish a college program, according to a news release.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., chairman of The Root and the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, will lead the curriculum working groups, along with Nina Jablonski, the Evan Pugh Professor of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University.

Read the full article.

Thanks to The Weekly Genealogist for the heads-up.

Finding Your Roots Will Return to Television on January 5

PBS’ Finding Your Roots will return to television on January 5. Following is a teaser from the October 19 edition of dailymail.com.

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PBS’ Finding Your Roots will return to public television for its third season in January after being placed on hiatus because it covered up the slave-holding past of one of Ben Affleck’s ancestors.

A 2014 episode of the popular show omitted references to his ancestor’s slave-holding history after Affleck requested to keep the detail secret, leading PBS to conduct a ‘very thorough investigation’.

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.

Read the full article.

Check out the Finding Your Roots website at PBS.org.

TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are? to Feature Bryan Cranston & Tom Bergeron – Aug. 23 & 30, 2015

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Bryan Cranston and Tom Bergeron discover absent fathers and a king’s daughter!

There are just two shows left this season — and these final episodes include some truly fascinating celebrity family stories. Bryan Cranston follows clues to a paternal line full of revelations. And Tom Bergeron travels from France to Canada to find a filles du roi. Tune in August 23 and 30 – 8/9c.

Who Do You Think You Are? to Reprise Highlights from Past Seasons & Unveil Outtakes From the Vault!

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The Learning Channel will air a special episode of the series Who Do You Think You Are? entitled ‘Into The Archives’ this Sunday. The special digs into its archives, featuring highlights throughout the past seasons, including triumphs and tragedies, delightful discoveries and sobering moments. This special episode also unveils outtakes and never-before-seen footage from the series’ vault.

Be sure and tune in to TLC this Sunday, August 16 at 9/8c for what’s sure to be a fascinating special!

I note that at this moment there are at least eight full episodes from the past available to watch at TLC. Click on this link, and then click on the Must-See Full Episodes tab down the page a ways. Fascinating shows!

Alfre Woodard to Be Featured on TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are? Sunday, August 9, 2015

TLC was kind enough to supply me with a screener for the upcoming show again this week. Alfre Woodard will be the featured celebrity on TLC’s Who Do You think You Are? this Sunday, August 9, 2015. The episode is scheduled for 8pm/9c.

Actress Alfre Woodard’s grandfather died before she knew him, and his family tree was a mystery. She weny on a journey searching for his roots, and uncovered the triumphant story of her great-grandfather Alec, who endured the horrors of slavery and ascended from servitude to successful landowner, an extraordinary feat of his time.

The episode was filmed from June 14 to 21, 2015. The following cities/locations were visited:

  • Alfre’s home, Los Angeles, CA;
  • Houston County Courthouse, Perry, GA;
  • Woodard land, Houston County, GA;
  • Louisiana State Archives, Baton Rouge, LA;
  • Jackson Parish Courthouse, Jackson Parish, LA;
  • Alec Woodard’s land, Chatham, LA

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Award-winning actress Alfre Woodard new a lot about her mother’s family, but her father’s Woodard line was a mystery. Her grandfather, Alex Woodard, died when her father was three, and the family history died with him. All she’d heard is that his family came to Oklahoma from Texas, but she was curious about their earlier origins.

To start her journey, Alfre dug into census records, locating her infant grandfather with his parents (Alfre’s great-grandparents) Alex Woodard, 39, born in Georgia, and Lizzie, his wife. Alfre calculated that her great-grandfather Alex was born about 1841 in Georgia, and suspected he may have been enslaved there – and that “Woodard” was his slave name. Alfre headed off to Georgia see if she could trace her great-grandfather, Alex Woodard’s, trail.

In Georgia, Alfre poured over white Woodard estate records to see if she can locate her ancestor. Alfre found her great-grandfather, Alex, listed as “Alec,” at about age 10, and appraised at $400. The records revealed that Alec’s owner, John Woodard, had died and all of his property – including his eleven slaves – is inventoried to divide among his heirs.

The information did not specify Alec’s biological family, but he was consistently listed with several children. Enslaved people were often sold away from their biological families, so they developed strong kinship networks with other slaves who worked and lived with them.

Alfre saw that Alec was given to a William Woodard, but members of Alec’s kinship network are sold to different owners. The expert promised to look into what happened to Alec once William Woodard claimed him.

The next morning, Alfre drove out to the Woodard land to see where her great-grandfather lived and labored as a slave. As she turns onto the road bordering the land, she noticed the road sign: Woodard Road! Alfre poured a libation on the land her ancestor worked to pay her respects.

Alfre reconvened with the expert, and discovered that Alec moved to Jackson Parish, Louisiana with his slave owner, William Woodard, by 1860.

Alfre followed her great-grandfather to Louisiana. The historian explained that Alec would’ve been emancipated after the Civil War in 1865. Alfre’s journey through her ancestor’s life as a slave was over, so now she wanted to know how he established himself as a free man. The expert explained that 1867 marked the first time black men could vote, but restrictive Southern laws required they pay a “poll tax” to do so. Poll tax rolls reveal that Alec was registered to vote and over the years he ascended from having no property to owning 240 acres of land in Jackson Parish! He was firmly part of the middle class at a time when any amount of land was significant to a former slave living in Louisiana. Owning land was the ultimate goal for every freedman, but only about 25% of them achieved it. Alfre’s great-grandfather accomplished an extraordinary feat. But something was amiss; Alfre then discovered that just a year later, Alec was now paying taxes on only 80 acres, and likely lost some of his land in an economic collapse.

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Next, Alfre examined an 1898 land deed from Alec Woodard and his wife Elizabeth, to Aaron Stell. Alfre saw that after Alec purchased land in Texas, he sold his Louisiana land to this man Aaron Stell for just $35 – but why so cheap? Alec sold the property with his wife Elizabeth (Alfre’s great-grandmother) and in fact, Aaron Stell was Elizabeth’s brother. Alec was doing well enough in Texas that he’s giving his brother-in-law the “family discount” on his Louisiana land.

Alfre drove out to the rural, thickly wooded plot formerly owned by her great-grandfather in Jackson Parish. Alfre walked the land and reflected on all she has learned about her impressive great-grandfather Alec Woodard and his resilience that has been passed down through generations.

The following information was discovered, but included not in the episode:

A sales and receipts record revealed Alec and his kin were hired out to different white farmers in Georgia. The expert explained that while Alec was officially the property of William Woodard, he was being temporarily rented to J. Mercer. A significant portion of enslaved people were rented for days, months or years when their owners could not or would not provide for them. Alec’s rate of $48.50 suggests he was rented for a full year. The following documents shows that after a year of being rented to J. Mercer, Alec was being reclaimed by William Woodard. Alec was roughly 17, and he and his kin were now being permanently separated among the estate heirs.

On her great-grandfather’s former land, Alfre met an 80-year-old African American woman who lived on that corner. Roye said that Stells have lived there as far as anyone can remember, and she’s a Stell by marriage. So Alfre and Roye are kin! Roye told Alfre about growing up on the old farm – picking cotton in the early morning darkness, climbing the pecan trees, and playing among the cows and horses. She said that generations of her family have been proud to own that land, and she hopes it always stays in the family.

“Finding Your Roots” Series Remains in a Timeout

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It was earlier rumored that Finding Your Roots was returning to finish Season Three. Now it seems that may have been premature. Following is an excerpt from the August 3, 2015 nydailynews.com:

BEVERLY HILLS — Stung by Ben Affleck whitewashing his family history, PBS says its popular “Finding Your Roots” series remains in a timeout.

“I do hope to see the series return,” PBS President Paula Kerger told TV critics. “But we’ve not made a decision yet. We want to be sure it is given the proper scrutiny that we think is necessary to ensure the integrity of the series.”

She said “some work” has been done on a potential third season of the series, which is hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates and traces the ancestry of celebrities.

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Read the full article.

Ancestry Helps “Hicks Baby” Find Her Mother

The following is from the August 5 New York Daily News.

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It took one woman more than half a century to find a piece of her familial roots.

Kriste Hughes, 51, was reunited with her birth mother and brother after a lengthy search.

Hughes was one of 200 children sold into adoption on the black market by Dr. Thomas Jugarthy Hicks, an unscrupulous physician in McCaysville, Ga., decades ago.

“I know this is real, but I’m still kind of in shock,” Hughes told ABC News, which helped her and eight other “Hicks babies” to locate their biological relatives.

The largest genealogy website, Ancestry.com, helped Hughes and the others track down their birth parents.

She sent her DNA sample to the lab and the site analyzed the specimen for free.

But chances of finding a match were slim. The database includes 1 million people, far less than 1% of the global population.

Despite the long odds, Hughes found her match — a first cousin named Jackie Flowers.

Another DNA test returned a match. This time she got a mom and a big brother.

Read the full article.

JK Rowling Featured on TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are? This Sunday, August 2, 2015.

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I again had the opportunity to watch a screener for the upcoming Who Do You Think You Are? episode this last week. This one features J.K. Rowling as she sets off on a journey in France to trace her mother’s roots. She discovered that a family war story might not be what she thought when military records revealed a surprising truth. Tracing the trail even further back, Jo learned of her second great-grandmother, who had many struggles both as a poor, single mother and a witness to German invasion during wartime, which forced her family to choose sides in a time of turmoil.

The episode will air on the Learning Channel this Sunday, August 2, 2015. The filming for the program was done on April 6 – 21, 2011, according to info from TLC.

The following cities and locations were visited:

  • JK’s Aunt’s home, Edinburgh, Scotland;
  • National Archives ofFrance, Paris, FR;
  • Chateau de Vincennes, Vincennes, FR;
  • Maisons Laffitte cemetery,Maisons-Laffitte, FR;
  • Paris Hospital Archives, Paris, FR;
  • JK ancestral home on Rue Clauzel, Paris, FR;
  • Brumath Town Hall, Brumath, FR;
  • JK ancestral home, Brumath, FR;
  • Brumathchurch, Brumath, FR.

The following is the gist of the episode:

Famed Harry Potter author and philanthropist, JK Rowling, is eager to trace the French roots of her maternal side, having always been very close with her mother, who’s passed away. She knows that her great-grandfather, Louis Volant, received the Legion d’honneur for his WWI efforts, but she doesn’t know why.

At the National Archives of Paris, Jo pours over Louis Volant’s Legion d’honneur records. She finds a fascinating tale of bravery, but is surprised to realize the man in this account is actually not her ancestor. Since there are no other “Louis Volant”s in the National Archives database, Jo travels to the Military Archives outside of Paris to see if her great-grandfather did, in fact, win a Legion d’honneur award.

At the Military Archives, Jo finds the correct war records for Louis Volant. She learns that in WWI he found himself caught unexpectedly, and with barely any training, in a battle when Germans attacked his regiment in France. Louis Volant heroically took command of his troop and killed several German soldiers to save his regiment. Jo is overcome with tears to find that for his bravery, Louis won the prestigious Croix de Guerre, an award for fighting; and for a soldier, a distinction greater than the Legion d’honneur.

Enthusiastic to continue tracing Louis’s line even farther back, Jo heads to the Paris Hospital Archives to learn about Louis’ early years and his mother, Jo’s second great-grandmother, Salome Schuch.

At the Paris Hospital Archives, Jo discovers that when Louis was born, Salome was an unwed servant working nearby in Paris. As an illegitimate son, Louis’ given last name was “Schuch,” making Jo wonder how he became a “Volant.” Jo sets off to meet with a historian at Salome’s former home where she worked as domestic help to see what else she can uncover about both of her ancestors.

A historian shows Salome’s workplace to Jo, and reveals that Salome would have been out of employment upon having a child. But documents reveal that some years later, Salome moved up in the world, becoming a dress maker and marrying Pierre Volant, who took on Louis as his own son. Next, Jo travels from Paris to the village of Brumath by the German border in France, to learn more about Salome and where she grew up.

At the Brumath Town Hall, a census reveals that Salome had five other siblings and that the family was rather poor. Jo sees that Salome’s father died young, continuing a trend in Jo’s family of single mothers raising children. Salome’s mother’s death certificate creates new questions for Jo as she sees it is written in German and not French; a result of the area changing hands from France to Germany during wartime. To learn more about the German occupation of Brumath, Jo meets with a historian to uncover new information.

Jo visits the house where Salome grew up in Brumath, and learns that during the Franco-Prussian war, Salome and her family endured an invasion of thousands of German soldiers, and found their lives in upheaval as the land, once French territory, became German. Jo learns that townsfolk were given the choice to remain in their homes and become German citizens or move to France to retain their citizenship.

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Records show Jo that her third great-grandmother, Christine Bergtold, remained on the now German land, and that her 2x great-grandmother Salome was too young to opt out. However, an opting document reveals that one of Salome’s family members opted in Paris and that Salome joined her there, despite still being a German citizen. Once Salome married Pierre she became a French citizen again, much to Jo’s delight. Jo reflects on the struggle of Salome, all through which she persevered and the traits the two of them share in common.

No mentioned in the program, but uncovered in the research process is the fact that before going off to serve in WWI, Louis worked his way up the ranks as a waiter at a ritzy hotel in London, eventually winning an award for excellence as head waiter.

Again – the program airs this Sunday, August 2 at 9/8c. Don’t miss it! Click on the above WDYTYA illustration for a quick video featuring this season’s celebrities.

Who Do You Think You Are? To Feature Ginnifer Goodwin This Sunday

The Learning Channel’s Who Do You Think You Are? Premieres this Sunday, July 26 at 9/8c. Actress Ginnifer Goodwin (from ABC’s Once Upon a Time) is this week’s celebrity. I was allowed to view a “screener” of the episode. I found it to be a bit of a tearjerker, and fascinating. Be sure and tune in this Sunday evening!

Gennifer knew nothing about her paternal grandfather’s family because he refused to talk about his parents. She proceeded to go on a journey to uncover the truth behind her great-grandparents’ story, and was shocked discover turbulent lives filled with court cases, drugs and incarcerations.

The filming was done June 12 to 20, 2015, and the following locations were visited:

  • Ginnifer Goodwin’s home, Los Angeles, CA;
  • Lyons College Library, Batesville, AR;
  • Independence County Courthouse, Batesville, AR;
  • Arkansas History Commission, Little Rock, AR;
  • The Butler Center for Arkansas Library, Little Rock, AR;
  • Shreveport Public Library, Shreveport, LA;
  • Noel Library at LSU Shreveport, Shreveport, LA;
  • Minden Cemetery, Minden, Louisiana.

She never knew her paternal grandfather, John Barton Goodwin, who died when she was an infant. She’s been haunted by the lack of information surrounding his family line; he never talked about his parents to her father, Tim. Understanding the generations that laid the foundation for her has grown more important to her since becoming a mother herself. The birth of her son Oliver has reignited her desire to know why her grandfather never spoke of his mother and father.

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Ginnifer started her search for information with her dad, who recalls that his father John Barton’s parents were named Nellie and John “Al” Goodwin, and that for some unknown reason, John Barton was abandoned when he was just 11 years old. The last time he did any research, Tim found a 1910 Census return in which Nellie, Al and John Barton are living in Batesville, Arkansas. Ginnifer wonders what could have happened for Nellie to let an 11 year old leave her home, and heads to Arkansas to see if she can find some answers.

Local records in Batesville reveal that Nellie’s maiden name was Haynes, and a search for her marriage record returns a result for Nellie and a man named J.D. Williams, not her great grandfather Al Goodwin! What happened with Nellie’s first marriage that she eventually married Al Goodwin? Was Nellie a young widow? The local genealogist explains that death records of this time are incomplete and advises Ginnifer visit the Independence County Courthouse to search for evidence for the other alternative to the end of a marriage: divorce records.

Next, Ginnifer meets with a historian, who has found a case for Nellie suing J.D. Williams (a.k.a. “Duff”) for divorce. Ginnifer discovers that Nellie successfully sued for divorce when Duff abandoned Nellie and their daughter Pearl soon after their marriage, and realizes that the date of the court case is close on the heels of Nellie’s marriage to Al Goodwin, Ginnifer’s great-grandfather.

Continuing her search for Nellie and Al Goodwin, Ginnifer finds that between 1906 and 1911 Al racked up 18 indictments for bootlegging and gambling, and served two years in prison. In Al’s own penitentiary records, Ginnifer is shocked to see her great-grandfather’s mug shot. When Ginnifer discovers Al had syphilis and was being visited by a woman other than his wife while in jail, it comes as little surprise that Nellie filed for divorce while Al was behind bars.

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Ginnifer forges on to see what happened to Nellie after her second divorce. She finds Nellie and her daughter Pearl in a Memphis, Tennessee City Directory… but Nellie is listed as Mrs. Nellie Wyllie – next to a third husband, Hugh Wyllie! Next, Ginnifer is surprised to discover that Nellie moved again – this time, to Louisiana! Curious why she ended up there, Ginnifer follows her great-grandmother’s trail south.

In Louisiana, Ginnifer pulls local newspapers which reveal the 1925 headline: “12 Alleged ‘Dope’ Law Violators Indicted” – and among the indicted is Hugh Wyllie. Next, Ginnifer is stunned to find an article about her great-grandmother Nellie, titled “Woman to be tried on Morphine charge.” At age 54, Nellie plead guilty to purchasing and possessing morphine, and was sentenced to two years in federal prison. Saddened to learn her great-grandmother served time in prison, Ginnifer wonders why Nellie would be involved in drug dealing. Was she an addict just supporting her own habit? It’s hard to say based on these documents, but if Nellie and Hugh were addicts, they might have been treated at the most famous clinic of the time, which just happened to be in nearby Shreveport, and may be the reason they ended up there.

Ginnifer meets with a drug historian, who has located the extensive records from the Shreveport drug clinic. Ginnifer comes across her great-grandmother’s entry, which states that she became addicted as a result of using morphine to treat “a heart condition and syphilis.” Ginnifer recalls Al Goodwin’s prison record in which he too suffered from syphilis. Jim informs Ginnifer that a doctor probably introduced Nellie to morphine, as it was liberally prescribed to syphilis patients. Ginnifer discovers that Nellie’s addiction stretched back to a time when John Barton was just 6 years old; finally revealing the most likely reason her son – Ginnifer’s grandfather – was abandoned. Finally, Ginnifer is dismayed to find an additional entry for Nellie’s daughter Pearl, who also suffered from addiction and entered the clinic on the same day as her mother.

Ginnifer heads to Minden Cemetery outside Shreveport to pay respects to her great-grandmother. At Nellie’s gravesite, Ginnifer considers this woman she’s come to know, who suffered through a string of terrible relationships and addiction. Understanding that her great-grandparents weren’t necessarily model citizens, Ginnifer empathizes with Nellie and Al, who battled internal demons. Through bittersweet tears, she’s glad to have finally learned the story of her great-grandparents and hopes it will open up her family’s hearts and let healing begin.

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This isn’t brought up in the TV episode, but one factoid that was discovered during the research process is that Duff Williams sued Nellie for divorce first, and only married Nellie to avoid jail time for having sex with her outside of matrimony. But the tables were turned when he falsely accused Nellie in court of adultery, and his lies sent him to prison… Hmmm… A lot of folks in this generation of the family were doing prison time…

Soo – that’s it… Be sure and watch Sunday, July 26 at 9/8c. Click on the J.K. Rowling Photo to see a promotional video for this season’s TLC Who Do You think You Are?

TLC Announces Summer Season Celebrities for “Who Do You Think You Are?”

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I happen to love TLC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” They have now announced who the celebs will be for the Summer Season 2015. I will be writing a lot more about this as time goes on. The following was received from The Learning Channel:

Series returns Sunday, July 26 at 9/8c

The two-time Emmy nominated series WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? returns this summer to share more fascinating stories, and shed light on surprising revelations, of the real life family history of celebrities. Executive Produced by Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky, the new season premieres Sunday, July 26 at 9/8c.

The contributors featured in the upcoming season include:

  • Tom Bergeron, who is aware of his French Canadian roots on his paternal side, but wants to know what brought his ancestors to North America. He goes as far back as his 10x great grandmother to find the answer.
  • Bryan Cranston, who comes to discover an unfortunate pattern amongst the men in his family.
  • Ginnifer Goodwin, who sets out to learn about her mysterious paternal great grandparents, whom her father, regretfully, does not know much about either.
  • Alfre Woodard, who strives to find out more about the paternal side of her family, and explores how her surname came to be.
  • Additionally, TLC will air the U.S. premiere of J.K. Rowling’s episode of the series, where the best-selling author sets off to uncover her maternal French roots. She finds that a family war story might not be what she thought when military records reveal a surprising twist.

Ancestry, the leading family history company, is teaming up again with TLC as a sponsor of the upcoming season. As part of the show sponsorship, Ancestry provides exhaustive family history research on each of the featured celebrities to help make discoveries possible and build out the story of each episode.

The series is produced for TLC by Shed Media and Is or Isn’t Entertainment, and is based on an original format created by Wall to Wall Media and Alex Graham. For Shed Media Executive Producers are Stephanie Schwam and Pam Healey. More information can be found at TLC.com/WDYTYA. ‘Like’ Who Do You Think You Are? on Facebook.com/WDYTYA and follow @WDYTYA on Twitter.

PBS Pulls “Finding Your Roots” After Ben Affleck Debacle

PBS has pulled “Finding Your Roots.” I’m guessing they didn’t like all the lousy publicity that they received over the seeming “cover-up” of Ben Affleck’s ancestry. So Season Three is ending before it gets started. That’s too bad, for over all, it was a good program.

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The following teaser is from an article written by Sarah Kaplan, published in the June 25, 2015 edition of the Washington Post:

When Ben Affleck volunteered to be featured on the PBS genealogy program “Finding Your Roots” last year, he was hoping to find “the roots of his family’s interest in social justice.”

Researchers did turn up plenty for the actor-cum-activist to be pleased about: a mother who was a member of the Freedom Riders, an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War.

But they also found Benjamin Cole, a great-great-great grandparent on his mother’s side…

An attempt to cover up that unwanted detail has led PBS to suspend the show, citing Affleck’s “improper influence” on programming.

“Finding Your Roots,” which was due to start its third season, is a typically PBS show. Executive produced by Harvard historian Henry Louis Gates Jr., it’s understated, bookish, set to a gentle soundtrack of twanging acoustic guitars and lightly probing in a way that’s neither too harsh nor provocative…

Read the full article.

The BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? Announces Season 12 Celebrities

The following news release is from the BBC Media Center website.

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Who Do You Think You Are? from Wall To Wall (a Warner Bros Television Production UK Ltd company) is back with another glittering line-up of much-loved faces delving in to their family trees.

Stars from the world of film and TV, theatre, music, cookery, modelling, and news feature in the 12th series of the original genealogy show when it returns to BBC One this summer.

Great British Bake off presenter Paul Hollywood, modelling legend Jerry Hall, Last Tango In Halifax stars Sir Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid, actress Jane Seymour, choirmaster and broadcaster Gareth Malone, stage and television actress Frances de la Tour, news reporter Frank Gardner, actor and writer Mark Gatiss and television presenter Anita Rani all join this year’s series.

Spanning almost a thousand years of history and crossing four continents, the new series follows our 10 household names as they investigate the secrets of their family trees. Travelling from the Tower of London to the Highlands of Scotland, from Tunisia to Tasmania, from the Punjab in India to the Wild West of America, our intrepid 10 each embark on a journey of discovery as they dig deep into their family ancestry, uncovering a host of hidden pasts and shocking revelations. Full of heartbreak, laughter, intrigue and surprise, each film captures every step of our celebrity’s mission to learn more about their ancestors’ lives.

From new-born babies spirited away under cover of darkness to convicts transported to the other side of the world; from sisters separated by the Holocaust to the battlefields of North Africa; from laudanum-addicted socialites to paying the ultimate price for treason in Tudor England; from music halls to tales of vampires, the latest series of Who Do You Think You Are? reveals the rich and extraordinary stories of our celebrities’ families and their history.

The series will see model and actress Jerry Hall trace her ancestry from the cotton mills of Oldham to the plains of Texas as she discovers her family’s pioneering past, blazing the trail west across America.

Derek Jacobi’s story is one of equal contrasts, from humble roots in Walthamstow to the court of Louis XIV of France. But the family tree hides a dangerous secret – his ancestor is leading a double life and flees to England where there’s another surprise in store – an unlikely connection to royalty on this side of the Channel.

Executive Producer for Wall to Wall, Colette Flight, says: “Who Do You Think You Are? is back with another fantastic line-up of much-loved faces, uncovering hidden history by bringing our celebrities’ ancestors to life. Following our best-known stars on their personal journey into their family trees reveals extraordinary stories, sometimes tragic, sometimes funny, but always compelling.”

“Roots” Gets a Television Remake by A&E Networks – to Air in 2016

The following except is from the CNN website.

Roots

(CNN) One of the biggest TV events of all time is being reimagined for new audiences.

“Roots,” the epic miniseries about an African-American slave and his descendants, had a staggering audience of over 100 million viewers back in 1977. Now A&E networks are remaking the miniseries, to air in 2016.

A&E, Lifetime and History (formerly the History Channel) announced Thursday that the three networks would simulcast a remake of the saga of Kunta Kinte, an African who was captured, shipped to America and sold into slavery to work on a Virginia plantation.

LeVar Burton, who portrayed Kinte in the original, will co-executive produce the new miniseries.

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