U.S. Network bails on Canadian-made Kennedys

PASADENA, CA–Right now, on a busy Friday afternoon at TCA, HBO is hosting a press tour session on their upcoming production Too Big to Fail. Speaking of which, that Kennedy miniseries shot in Toronto last summer? The one starring Greg Kinnear as JFK and Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy? It sounds as if it just failed to make the schedule of the U.S. production partner.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, programmers at the A&E sister network History have looked at the eight part miniseries and decided not to air it. It was originally scheduled to air in America this spring.
The multi-million dollar production was co-produced by Shaw Television’s (formerly Canwest) History Television. The series had key members of the 24 team behind it, including Canadian director Jon Cassar and executive producer Joel Surnow.
There had been accusations that the script was controversial and not factual enough to be shown on a network called History. A representative from the U.S. network released a statement which reads, “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.”
The Kennedys, which also stars Barry Pepper and Tom Wilkinson, is still supposed to air in Canada and in other markets outside the U.S. It was commissioned as the Canadian History Channel’s first scripted dramatic series.
UPDATE: This article in Variety speculates that The Kennedys was yanked over fears that the Surnow-produced project was a smear job. Surnow is well known for his pro-conservative views. Disney, Hearst and NBC Universal all have a piece of History; pressure, it is suggested, was put on the parent companies by those who still cherish the Kennedy Camelot era.
John F. Kennedy was inaugurated president of the United States on January 20, 1961–50 years ago this month.
2ND UPDATE: Reports now suggest mini could wind up on Showtime (where another politically charged TV project, a movie on the Reagans, landed after CBS got cold feet). Meanwhile Cassar tweeted Friday night that he has “no other details about History Channel deciding not to air the series than what has been reported online.”

One Response to “U.S. Network bails on Canadian-made Kennedys”

  1. Wow. So ancient astronauts and UFOs are “historic”, and this isn’t?

    And just when did networks start worrying about historical accuracy anyway? Don’t they just usually chalk up the usual “minor” historical errors to being creative and telling a story, muttering something about “this isn’t a documentary, after all…”.

    I know this is the US History network, not the Canadian one, but its kinda rich that the Canadian History Channel regularly shows stuff like Stone’s “JFK”…

    Reply

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