PBS se­ries dis­cov­ers th­ese very un­alike Bills are re­lated

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - TV - By David Bauder

NEW YORK — The PBS se­ries “Find­ing Your Roots” has dis­cov­ered that po­lit­i­cal tele­vi­sion’s polar op­po­site Bills — Ma­her and O’Reilly — are dis­tant cousins.

The rev­e­la­tion shocks the two men as it seems to tickle the show’s host, Har­vard Univer­sity pro­fes­sor Henry Louis Gates Jr. The se­ries, which had been put on hold fol­low­ing rev­e­la­tions that ac­tor Ben Af­fleck sought to quash news that he had a slave­own­ing an­ces­tor, be­gins its third sea­son Jan. 5. The Ma­her-O’Reilly episode airs a week later.

The pug­na­cious Fox News Chan­nel host is shown with the se­riespre­pared book of his an­ces­try in front of him and is told he has a fa­mil­ial tie to an­other well-known per­son­al­ity.

He turns a page to see a pic­ture of Ma­her, lib­eral host of HBO’s “Real Time.”

“Oh, geez,” he said. “You’re go­ing to have to put him on 24-hour med­i­cal watch. This ru­ins his ca­reer. This de­stroys him.”

Ma­her is more mea­sured when he sees the O’Reilly pic­ture in his book.

“It just shows you what a great place Amer­ica is,” he said. “Be­cause we’re about as op­po­site as you can pos­si­bly get.”

The fam­ily ties go back — way back — and were dis­cov­ered through DNA test­ing as op­posed to a pa­per trail of a fam­ily tree.

Through test­ing of their Y chro­mo­somes, which are passed through male fam­ily lines, both men share a com­mon male an­ces­tor from the King­dom of Breifne in Ire­land, which was es­tab­lished in the 8th cen­tury, said CeCe Moore, the show’s DNA con­sul­tant.

Sep­a­rate au­to­so­mal DNA test­ing, which tracks de­scen­dants of both sexes, also in­di­cates the men share an an­ces­tor. This test­ing mea­sures ties that date back about 500 years; the two tests could have spot­ted the same com­mon an­ces­tor found through the Y chro­mo­some, or per­haps they had more than one, she said.

“We’re all con­nected if you go back far enough,” Moore said. “Th­ese two are a lit­tle bit more re­cent than most of us.”

Once the tie was dis­cov­ered, “putting them in the same show be­came ir­re­sistible,” Gates said. Jour­nal­ist Soledad O’Brien, who dis­cov­ered a dis­tant con­nec­tion to late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert, is also fea­tured on the Jan. 12 episode.

The pa­per trail for both men un­cov­ered in­ter­est­ing de­scen­dants. A Ma­her an­ces­tor was a prom­i­nent New York union boss, while the first O’Reilly to come to the U.S. es­caped the Ir­ish potato famine at age 16 to come to New York and open a sa­loon.

Maya Ru­dolph, Shonda Rhimes, Jimmy Kim­mel, Sen. John McCain, Dustin Hoff­man and Sean “Puffy” Combs are among the per­son­al­i­ties whose back­grounds are traced in the up­com­ing “Find­ing Your Roots” sea­son. The Af­fleck rev­e­la­tions, which forced a more rig­or­ous and in­de­pen­dent sys­tem on pro­duc­ers, did not scare away any po­ten­tial sub­jects, Gates said.

“I really think this is our best sea­son yet,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.