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Megan Smolenyak

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Genealogy on TV

Posted: 02/25/11 02:32 PM ET

About a year ago, I gleefully wrote about the fact that genealogy was finally hitting the air waves in the U.S.

Celebrity Genealogy Hits Prime Time

Wildly popular in other countries for some years, we got a long overdue double dose last year with the launch of the American version of Who Do You Think You Are? (a British import) and Faces of America on PBS. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work on both series, so it was somewhat surreal to watch both Lisa Kudrow (executive producer of WDYTYA, as hardcore genealogists abbreviate it for Twitter and other purposes) and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (executive producer and host of the PBS series) talking about family history on Oprah last year.

There's no question that 2010 was a banner year for roots lovers, but indications are that it's only going to get better. I base this on the latest developments:

  • Though the current season is only three weeks in, NBC has already announced the renewal of Who Do You Think You Are? (Fridays 8/7c) for a third season.


  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr. also recently announced that he will be doing another season of celebrity genealogy programming for PBS.


  • And now the g-word is starting to show up in unexpected places, such as Top Chef All-Stars (Wednesdays on Bravo, 10/9c) where the next episode (March 2nd) has been dubbed "Give Me Your Huddled Masses" and is described as follows: "The chefs create food fare on the open water. Later, they journey to Ellis Island to whip up dishes based on their family tree."


Given that Ellis Island is genealogical crack, I can't wait to see what they cook up!


Note: If you're interested in researching your own roots, you might find my WDYTYA companion guide helpful: Who Do You Think You Are?: The Essential Guide to Tracing Your Family History.

 
 
 

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