Finding Your Roots with Louis Gates, Jr. has filmed part of a third season, but there are no plans to air it yet—though PBS does hope it will return. The show’s limbo is a result of the leaked e-mail message that revealed Ben Affleck asked to have mention of his slave-owning ancestors removed from his season-two episode.
“There is not yet a third season complete,” PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour Saturday. “We’ve not made a decision yet. We want to be sure that it is given the proper scrutiny that we think is necessary to ensure the integrity of the series.”
“We are working with WETA and the producers to ensure that they have, in fact, the right processes in place to make sure that the content that’s delivered is of the quality and accuracy and authenticity that is the hallmark of public television,” she said. “We are hopeful that that will be put in place and that there will be a third season. It’s too early to make any comment about a fourth season. We want to just take this very carefully and make sure that the series is produced to the standards that we require.”
Did this incident damage PBS’ credibility? Kerger said:
“No, I don’t think it’s tarnished PBS. The whole thing was very unfortunate. The fact that we found out about it reading the WikiLeaks was the most unfortunate of all. It’s not that you look for teachable moments, but this is a powerful reminder that all the programs that we bring to our air—not just news and public affairs—have to adhere to a standard.
The other thing about it is that we were serious about it, and we took the time to look at it very carefully. We wanted to understand exactly what had happened, what had gone wrong, and made sure that we have the appropriate oversight in place moving forward. But also as a reminder to all of our producers that, you know, we really do take this seriously. But we also want to be fair and not punitive. And I think that’s important too.”
Kerger added, “I do hope to see the series back.” Genealogy Road Show, she told critics, focuses on “everyday people,” so having celebrities on this show offer “a great way to get kids interested in history. Personal history is just an interesting avenue. And so the series has been very popular. We’ve heard from a lot of people that are very anxious for it to return. I think that it has been an engaging series. And so we hope to bring it back. That’s our plan.”