- All-Star Cast:
- The originial miniseries featured many famous black and white celebrities of the time: John Amos, Maya Angelou, Ed Asner, Lloyd Bridges, Georg Stanford Brown, Macdonald Carey, Chuck Connors, Scatman Crothers, Sandy Duncan, Lynda Day George, Louis Gossett, Jr., Lorne Greene, George Hamilton, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Burl Ives, Carolyn Jones, Doug McClure, Ian McShane, Vic Morrow, Robert Reed, Richard Roundtree, John Schuck, Cicely Tyson, Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen and Ralph Waite.
- The cast of the second miniseries was equally impressive: Marlon Brando, James Broderick, Georg Stanford Brown, Diahann Carroll, Michael Constantine, Robert Culp, James Daly, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Olivia de Havilland, Norman Fell, Henry Fonda, Al Freeman, Jr., Pam Grier, Andy Griffith, James Earl Jones, Dina Merrill, Harry Morgan, Greg Morris, Brock Peters, Richard Thomas, George Voskovec and Paul Winfield.
- California Doubling: In The Next Generations, the Los Angeles Arboretum doubles for Gambia in Africa. Most of the scenes used are acceptable to the untrained eye until the Queen Anne Cottage starts showing up in the background of a village made up of grass huts.
- Cast the Runner-Up:
- John Amos was considered for the roles of the wrestler and Fiddler before he was cast as Kunta Kinte.
- Marc Singer auditioned for Jim Warner in The Next Generations before being cast as his brother Andy.
- The Danza: Cynthia Sye as Cynthia Harvey.
- Directed by Cast Member: Georg Stanford Brown (Tom Harvey) directed Part V of The Next Generations.
- Irony as She Is Cast:
- Kunta Kinte was supposed to be chased down in a sprint by Fanta's father Kadi Touray, who was played by football Hall-of-Famer O.J. Simpson. It was expected that Simpson would have absolutely no problem catching Levar Burton. However, Burton had been a medal-winning track star in high school and could leave Simpson in the dirt when running flat out. After six ruined takes, the director finally took Burton aside and instructed him to not run flat out.
- In The Next Generations, the very liberal Marlon Brando makes a cameo as George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party.
- The Other Darrin:
- Chicken George was played by Ben Vereen in the original miniseries and Avon Long in The Next Generations.
- Dr. William Reynolds was played by Robert Reed in the original miniseries and Jerry Hardin in The Gift.
- Playing Against Type: The mini-series cast several well-known and beloved TV figures as evil slavers, including Robert Reed, Ralph Waite, Lorne Greene, Burl Ives, Sandy Duncan, and Chuck Connors. It also went the other way by casting Edward Asner as a slave ship captain who is conflicted and tortured about his trade.
- Posthumous Credit: James Daly died on July 3, 1978, seven months before The Next Generations was broadcast.
- Real-Life Relative:
- Ruby Dee (Queen Haley) and Ossie Davis (Dad Jones) were married in real life.
- James Daly (R.S.M. Boyce) was the then father-in-law of Georg Stanford Brown (Tom Harvey).
- Pam Grier (Francey) and Rosey Grier (Big Slew Johnson) are cousins. Of the three pairs of real life relatives, they are the only one to share a scene.
- Star-Making Role: The original miniseries was this for Levar Burton. It was his first on screen role.
- You Look Familiar: Fran Bennett played Trixie in Part VI of The Next Generations and Mammy May in The Gift.
Trivia / Roots (1977)