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History Network pulls plug on Kennedy miniseries

The Kennedys may have no one left serving on Capitol Hill, but the family still has enough clout to keep a miniseries about their political dynasty from airing in the United States.

In a statement, the History Channel said it has decided not air "The Kennedys," an eight-part miniseries about the family that starred Greg Kinnear as President John F. Kennedy, Katie Holmes as his wife Jacqueline "Jackie" Kennedy and Barry Pepper as his brother Bobby Kennedy. 

"While the film is produced and acted with the highest quality, after viewing the final product in its totality, we have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand," the network said in a statement. 

The History Channel had not set a date for the miniseries to air. It was expected to run later this spring, and is scheduled to premiere in March in Canada.

The concern from both the Kennedy family and their associates about this miniseries from Joel Surnow, a creator of the Fox action show "24," was no secret. Heavy lobbying by the family and friends of the family played a key role in getting the project yanked, people close to the situation said.

People close to the Kennedys got their hands on an early script for the program and immediately blasted it. The late Theodore Sorensen, a senior advisor to President Kennedy, called the draft he saw a "one-sided right-wing script" that was "vindictive" and "malicious" in a short film about the project made by Robert Greenwald, a documentary filmmaker.  Some people even managed to see the first few episodes of the completed program.

Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late president, also made an effort to get the project stopped in its tracks. She lobbied Anne Sweeney, a top television executive at Walt Disney Co., one of the three companies that co-owns History Channel. The other two companies that own the network are NBC Universal and Hearst Corp.

Kennedy has ties to both Sweeney and Disney. She has a book deal with Disney's publishing unit Hyperion, which is set to publish a book of previously unreleased interviews with the late Jacqueline Kennedy this fall. Caroline Kennedy is to edit and write the introduction for the book, and is likely to help promote it.

On a more personal level, Sweeney is on the board of the Special Olympics, which was founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the president's sister.

Maria Shriver, the daughter of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, also has connections to NBC Universal, having had a long relationship with the company as a reporter and anchor for NBC News.

Although History Channel has passed on the project, it will air elsewhere around the world and could find a new home in the United States should another television outlet strike a deal with the producers, Aslyum Entertainment and Muse Entertainment.

In a statement, the two companies said, "We are proud of the work all of our talent put into the making of The Kennedys and the painstaking efforts that went into creating a drama that is compelling while rich in historic detail. Although we regret this does not fit into the History Channel’s plans, we are confident that television viewers in the United States will join viewers from around the world in having an opportunity to watch this series in the near future."

History Channel also has sister networks it could run the series on including Lifetime and Lifetime Movie Network. However, it seems that the parent companies of all those channels are looking to move on despite all the money invested in the project.

This is not the first time a political family was able to persuade a network to not run a program. Several years ago, the Reagan family and friends of the former president were instrumental in getting CBS to not carry its movie about his life. It did eventually run on Showtime, the pay cable channel that is in far fewer homes.

-- Joe Flint


Comments () | Archives (17)

No problem as I wasn't planning on watching it anyway.
Katie Holmes as Jackie? It was a bad idea from the start.

I'm a longtime admirer of the JFK administration and believe he inspired a generation to public service and proved himself a great leader during the Cuban Missile Crisis and, when finally forced to act, in Civil Rights.

At the same time, it's established fact that Kennedy's personal conduct was deplorable and reckless and that, initially, he made some shockingly foolish errors in judgment. Arguably it's impossible to understand the man's greatness without examining his flaws.

It's ironic that the History Channel -- the world headquarters for nutball Kennedy Assassination "documentaries" -- has a problem airing this dramatization. It would be a far greater service to Kennedy's legacy to run the series and follow up with some serious documentaries and discussions.

I never realized the Kennedys supported censorship.

So, Aliens building the pyramids is okay for the History brand, but this isn't....

Not up to the History Channel's standards? I guess UFO Hunters, Ancient Aliens, Ax Men, and other glandular types shouting at the camera were too high a standard to uphold.

Wow, the Kennedys are stopping a TV series? The History Channel should gets some balls and air it anyway.

The Kennedy name has become more or less a brand name with an image to promote and project. They have benefited greatly from their exploitation of the media, but of course it can be a two-edged sword. What's truly pathetic is Sorenson dredging up the "right wing" card.

They should run in on the Fox News Chanel. It would be a perfect fit on that home of right-wing extremist fiction and propaganda.

I would like to have had the opportunity to judge for myself whether or not this miniseries is "one-sided" and "right-wing."

I´m from Europe and I don`t understand the hate against the Kennedys?!
I´m following for a couple of time some comments on some websites and my impression is that either you hate the Kennedys or you love them. But there is nothing between them.
O.K., they are rich and their behavior in some cases are "bad". But what about the Bush family and Sarah Palin and all the other politicians? They are not better. They are also rich and have power and their behavior is not better.
But I think it is not right that they (did they?) stopped the miniseries.

"I´m from Europe and I don`t understand the hate against the Kennedys?!"

The hatred and anger results from their extensive corruption (particulary JFK's appointment of his brother as Attorney General despite his complete lack of experience in law enforcement) and their attempt to overthrow the constitution and establish themselves as a royal family. The US is a democracy, not a monarchy, and we don't like the idea of a single family setting themselves up as royalty. It is extremely offensive. I can understand why the Kennedy family continues to try to suppress the truth about what they did.

This is 2nd time when series about Kennedy's clan is prevented from show.

About 10 years ago ABC series based on book "Dark side of Camelot"
by Seymour were also stopped from coming on TV.

Why nobody in this country spoke that president Kennedy lied about
taking missiles from Turkey as Chrushev took missiles from CUBA?

This is free country if you do not speak as it's elite does you are out of luck your speech is cenzored.

Why did you hate USSR. There is no big difference.


Yeah, Ted Sorenson is an expert on objective writing about John Kennedy!
Wonder how it covers the abandonment of the 2056 Brigade at the Bay of Pigs, Cuba? Does it include Kruschev agreeing to publicly withdraw missiles from Cuba while Kennedy secretly withdrew missiles and surveillance stations from Turkey?

Here in Europe there are still royal families (UK, Spain,Sweden etc.), but they don`t have any power! The only thing what they do is to represent!
And by the way, the countries with royal families are democratically states!
You can only assume why the miniserie is stopped. You don`t know the reason for sure. Maybe there are wrong facts or something, I don`t care.
As I said, the Bush family (for example) is not better! The Kennedys did a lot good things for the american people. Ted Kennedy, for example, is the one, who forced the idea of an health insurance for all americans! That is a good thing for the americans.
We have something like that and this has nothing to do with communism!!
That is one example of what the Kennedys did right.

It seems like the only thing worth watching on History anymore are Pawn Stars and American Pickers. Anyone who has watched it lately realizes that Disney has been messing with the content of its specials for quite awhile. But is it news to anyone that any program criticizing any democrat is not going to be picked up in Hollywood? That's why shows and movies are left leaning, there the only ones the networks will show. At least this shines the light on the left leaning media for those still in denial that it exists.

there have been many stories about the KENNEDY'S! we've seen and heard alot, so why not run this 8part mini series? the network that stand up to this will have viewers drawn to the screen, because we we are all fascinated with this family! i say, let the series run and let the viewers make their own opinions!

Much has been said about exposing the personal agenda for the actions of the Kennedys. I would like to ask what difference it makes when the existence of the Kennedys made possible the great strides in Race Relations, and human rights, and so many other areas of Government.

These things were accomplished. That is a fact! The why is certainly not an issue. These men were human, with flaws and strengths, and I thank God they were there when the world needed them.

That the Kennedys should be recognized for these things and not for the lesser actions defined as Character Flaws, (infidelity etc.), or the fact that Joe Sr. was a narcicist intent on founding and expanding his own family dynasty are things that must be weighed and judged by history, not by the family members who would like the disguise to live.


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