Can Greg Kinnear cut it as JFK?
Geez, talk about inconvenient timing. Just as Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood has been touting the far-fetched claim that conservatives in Hollywood can't reveal their, well, conservativeness, without being in danger of losing their jobs, along comes the news -- via Variety -- that outspoken conservative uber-producer Joel Surnow ("24") has signed an all-star cast to appear in his upcoming miniseries, "The Kennedys." The show, set to run for eight hours on the History Channel next year, landed just as many top actors as Oliver Stone got for his biopic, "W.," which debuted in theaters in 2008.
Greg Kinnear will play JFK, with Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy, Barry Pepper as Bobby Kennedy and Tom Wilkinson as family titan Joe Kennedy.
When news first surfaced about the project, liberal critics who'd read early drafts of the script lambasted the project for being an unbridled attack on the Kennedy clan. But as I wrote earlier this year, it seems wildly unfair to assume that just because Surnow is a conservative, that he would have a conservative agenda when it comes to portraying history -- especially if you want to have any credibility in defending Oliver Stone's right to make movies about George Bush and Richard Nixon.
I read the scripts myself and thought they were pretty impressive, and certainly well within the bounds of propriety, especially considering the reams of conspiratorial, often sleazy revisionist histories that have been written about JFK's womanizing and the Kennedy family dysfunction. The casting of Kinnear as JFK also makes it hard to believe that Surnow is doing a hatchet job, since if Kinnear is anything, judging from most of his roles, he is the epitome of someone who represents middle-American decency and idealism. It would be hard to imagine JFK coming off as a total heel with Kinnear in the part. I mean, how could you not like a guy who's played both the overwhelmed dad in "Little Miss Sunshine" and open-hearted Philadelphia Eagles football coach Dick Vermeil in "Invincible."
In fact, even if Kinnear might be -- gasp! -- a liberal in real life, I'd argue that the characters he plays often represent conservative values, which might be why Surnow liked the idea of him playing JFK in the first place. I think this is a miniseries that definitely bears watching.
Photo: Greg Kinnear at a 2008 screening of the film "Ghost Town." Credit: Evan Agostini / Associated Press