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Sally Hemings, an American Scandal
Tina Andrews
$18.95 / now selling at $10.95

Winner, NAACP IMAGE AWARD

 


FROM THE PUBLISHER:

     In an electrifying debut guaranteed to inspire, Tina Andrews weaves a passionate autobiographical/behind-the-scenes account of one of the most controversial, highest-rated miniseries in recent television history. It also chronicles her personal and political odyssey as she sought to dramatize the hotly debated relationship between Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, and author of the Declaration of Independence, and Sally Hemings, his slave paramour.

     On October 31, 1998, the world watched in awe as DNA evidence established a link in the highly refuted rumor about a liaison between Jefferson and Hemings, and that Jefferson had fathered at least one of Sally's children during his 38-year relationship with her. But did he love her?

     Fourteen months later, on January 27, 2000, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, keepers of the legacy of Thomas Jefferson, announced that indeed there was a "long standing relationship between Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson" and that Jefferson may have indeed fathered at least one and probably all six of her children. The announcement came two weeks before the airing of a miniseries on the subject.

     The announcement was no surprise to Andrews, the screenwriter and co-executive producer of that miniseries. In 1983, she learned of the Jefferson and Hemings story and set about to research the story, interview descendants and script the truth. A year later she had written a play and a screenplay. Author and mentor Alex Haley encouraged her in her efforts because a "wider audience needs to know this story."

     Over the next 15 years the project endured 12 rejections, 4 option sales, 3 title changes and the criticism that Andrews had "sullied the image of the great American icon." Still, Andrews persevered. Thanks to genetic science, justice finally prevailed in October 1998, when the potential DNA link was established between a descendant of Eston Hemings, Sally's youngest son, and Thomas Jefferson. By the Thursday following the revelation, Andrews (and Executive Producer Craig Anderson) had a four-hour commitment for a CBS miniseries.

     But Andrews' worries were far from over. Power struggles, creative differences, cost overruns, script changes and overzealous Jefferson sympathizers plagued the production. The ad campaign heralding "The Greatest Love Story Never Told" would outrage African Americans and whites alike. They picketed in Philadelphia. Yet 20 million Americans watched and asked "Was it a love story?" So here is the definitive answer--the facts, the fiction, the truths and the triumphs of one of the most explosive miniseries-from an insider's view and the only one who could tell it--the writer herself.


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