Today, straight out of left field, comes news from THR that the miniseries The Kennedys, will no longer air this spring on The History Channel. The network’s representative says, “Upon completion of the production of The Kennedys, History has decided not to air the 8-part miniseries on the network. 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.” So despite a name cast that includes Greg Kinnear (John F. Kennedy), Katie Holmes (Jackie Kennedy), Barry Pepper (Robert F. Kennedy) and Tom Wilkinson (Joe Kennedy), the series isn’t going to air on The History Channel. More details and the trailer after the jump:
The problem seems to come from the fact that Joel Surnow, the co-creator of 24 and known conservative (he produced the Fox News’ ill-received Half Hour News Hour, the right-wing response to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report), who developed the project with writer Stephen Kronish. Apparently the left side of the political aisle and Kennedy historians had many problems with the portrayal of the Kennedy family and the historical events in which they were involved. Even further bringing controversy to the project was a New York Times story that heavily criticized an early draft of the script saying it was “vindictive” and “malicious.” However, Still, History and A&E Television Networks said at the time that the script had been revised and that the final version had been vetted by experts. So why the problem now?
Surely some right-wing political minds will think this is just an attempt by the liberal media to stifle conservatives’ voices, but I think the network is just covering their own ass. Personally, I just find it funny that the channel that airs countless programs about UFO sightings and alien conspiracies having quibbles with the dramatization of history, it seems silly for them to make this decision so late in the game. If there was ever any worry about inaccuracy in representing history, then this project should have had a different home from the beginning. Why they expected this to be as “accurate” as all of their fact-based programming is beyond me.
Coincidentally, the program will still air in Canada and other international territories. Here in the U.S. we’ll likely still end up seeing the miniseries by way of a pay cable network or something long those lines. This same controversy surrounded The Reagans, a miniseries that was slated to air on CBS, but was scrapped after threats of boycotts from advertisers. That miniseries later found a home on Showtime, and while it’s thought the same could happen with this miniseries, a History Channel rep had this to say regarding the cancellation:
“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.”
So maybe the series will end up airing on A&E instead? I guess we’ll find out later this year. In the meantime you can check out the trailer for the miniseries below. Thoughts?