The Kennedys, an eight part miniseries beginning Sunday, April 3, on ReelzChannel, has been fraught with intrigue and dismay since it was announced last year. It was originally scheduled to air on the History Channel, which paid $30 million to make the sex, drugs and scandal-scented series.
Joel Surnow, the conservative producer of 24 was tapped to produce the miniseries; and early on, complaints began: In February of last year The New York Times ran a front-page story in which former JFK adviser/biographer Theodore Sorensen called the project “vindictive” and “malicious.”
Surnow told the Hollywood Reporter that a lot of the criticism may have sprung from his own known conservative political views. Plus, there were scenes which were not 100% historically accurate. Though Surnow and historical research team, one of whom was brought in by the History Channel, worked hard to make history truthfully come alive, the execs at the History Channel weren’t happy, especially about depictions of the characters’ sex lives.
The History Channel is part of A&E Television Network. The Hollywood Reporter [THR] brought forth this exclusive tidbit:
AETN is owned by a consortium including the Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal and Hearst. The source said that Disney/ABC Television Group topper Anne Sweeney, who serves on the AETN board and is said to hold tremendous sway over its decisions, was personally lobbied by Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy. Caroline Kennedy has a book deal with Disney’s Hyperion publishing division, which announced in April 2010 that it will publish a collection of previously unreleased interviews with the late Jackie Kennedy timed to the 50th anniversary of the first year of JFK’s presidency this fall.
According to THR, had The Kennedys come out on the History Channel, Caroline Kennedy might not have been so eager to promote her book. Meanwhile her cousin, Maria Shriver, daughter of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and wife of former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
is said to have voiced her displeasure with the project to outgoing NBCU[niversal] execs Jeff Zucker and Jeff Gaspin…and a source said Shriver criticized the Kennedys project to Sweeney after a leaked early script was attacked in the New York Times as “vindictive” and “malicious” by a former JFK aide (though the final shooting script is said to have been vetted for accuracy by History’s in-house historians).
Meanwhile, Greg Kinnear who stars as President John Kennedy told THR last night at the premier that
when he heard “it wasn’t going to be broadcast on The History Channel, I didn’t know [what to think] … I’ve had movies that nobody saw, I supposed it could be a TV show that ended up in a dusty vault somewhere. I really didn’t know what to expect.”
Katie Holmes, who plays Jackie Kennedy said:
I am so thrilled it did find a home. There was a lot of work put into this. People felt so passionate about this and worked so hard, so it’s wonderful to be here tonight.
The questions are: Does anyone know where REELZ is on their cable guide? Will The Kennedys prove watchable for 8 parts?