A woman from Iowa claims that she was kidnapped by a man, who forced her to watch the nine-hour miniseries Roots to "understand her racism." As Cedar Rapids newspaper The Gazette reports, the man was identified as 52-year-old Robert Lee Noye. He allegedly wanted her to watch the entire 1977 miniseries, which is about author Alex Haley's family line and how it relates to the history of slavery in the United States.
When the woman who was kidnapped attempted to move, Noye told her to "remain seated and watch the movie with him or he would kill her and spread her body parts across Interstate 380 on the way to Chicago." He was arrested on Monday and is facing charges of first-degree harassment and false imprisonment. It is not clear how long she was forced to watch the show, or if Noye had any other motivations for imprisoning her.
When Roots premiered on Jan. 23, 1977, it became an immediate culture phenomenon and attracted 100 million viewers by the time it reached its finale on Jan. 30. In fact, that last episode is still the third-most watched single episode of a TV show of all-time, coming in behind the M.A.S.H series finale and the Dallas episode "Who Shot J.R."
Roots, which starred LeVar Burton, was considered graphic for its time. It was remade in 2016 for the History channel, with Burton on board as a co-executive producer.