BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) - “Finding Your Roots” will return for season three, but whether the celebrity genealogy series that buried an uncomfortable fact about Ben Affleck’s ancestor continues after that remains in doubt, PBS’ chief executive said.
PBS conducted a “very thorough investigation” and is working with the show’s producers to ensure that its content is accurate, PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger told TV critics Saturday. The third season has yet to be scheduled.
The public TV service launched a review after it was reported that Affleck requested the program not reveal his ancestor’s slave-holding history in a 2014 episode. The Associated Press examined historical documents and found that Affleck’s great-great-great-grandfather owned 24 slaves.
Affleck’s request came to light last spring in hacked Sony emails published online by whistleblower site WikiLeaks.
PBS’ review found that co-producers violated standards by allowing improper influence on the show’s editorial process and failed to inform PBS or then-producing station WNET New York of Affleck’s efforts to affect the program’s content. Changes were made, including adding another researcher and an independent genealogist.
Series host and executive producer Henry Louis Gates Jr. has issued an apology, saying he regretted forcing PBS to defend the integrity of its programming.
WETA in Washington, D.C., took over as the public TV producing station before the issue came to light, Kerger said.
In a Facebook posting in April, Affleck said he was “embarrassed” for a TV show about his family to include a slave owner. The award-winning “Good Will Hunting” and “Argo” actor and filmmaker added, among other comments, that “Finding Your Roots” isn’t a news program.
“We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery,” Affleck said in the post.
PBS hasn’t been tarnished by what occurred, Kerger said during the Q&A session, and it reinforced the importance of applying stringent standards to all its programs.
PBS is taking time to weigh what occurred with “Finding Your Roots” to ensure that there was a clear understanding of what happened and what oversight needed to be added, Kerger said.
“But we want to be fair and not punitive,” she said, adding she hopes that the series will continue.
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