Ben Affleck asked PBS show to Censor His Slave-Owning Ancestor Story

April 21, 2015

G98.7FM Entertainment News


Actor Ben Affleck asked producers from the “Finding Your Roots” show to leave out some interesting information about his ancestors in his 2014 episode…but that information has now come to light.




Uncovered messages from emails linked Sony Pictures revealed conversations between Affleck and the show’s host Henry Louis Gates Jr. in regards to editing out the fact that one of Affleck’s ancestors owned slaves.




“Here’s my dilemma,” Gates wrote to Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton at the time. “Confidentially, for the first time, one of our guests has asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors — the fact that he owned slaves. “Now, four or five of our guests this season descend from slave owners, including Ken Burns. We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He’s a megastar. What do we do?”




Lynton agreed with the Harvard professor that the situation was tricky. “…It may get out that you (Gates) made the change and it comes down to editorial integrity…”




When Affleck’s episode aired later year, Gates told the Associated Press that the program decided to leave out the actor’s slave-owning ancestor in order to highlight and make time for the more interesting members in his family tree. “For any guest, we always find far more stories about ancestors on their family trees than we ever possibly could use,” Gates said.




The historian also noted that the series has previously included the slave-owning members of families on the show, including Ken Burns and Anderson Cooper’s relatives.






Contributor: Simone D. (follow on twitter: @SSDProductions)





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