by David Itzkoff at New York Times -January 8, 2011
A big-budget miniseries about John F. Kennedy’s presidency that was criticized over its historical accuracy before it was even filmed will not be shown on the History Channel, the cable network has announced.
The series, called “The Kennedys,” was supposed to be the History Channel’s first major move into scripted programming, with a high-profile cast, a well-known if controversial producer and a multimillion-dollar price tag.
But on Friday, the channel said in a statement that this “dramatic interpretation” of the Kennedys’ story, which had been filmed and was being prepared for broadcast in the spring, “is not a fit for the History brand.” The decision was first disclosed by The Hollywood Reporter.
In December 2009, the History Channel announced that it had ordered “The Kennedys” from the producer Joel Surnow, an Emmy Award-winning creator and former executive producer of the Fox series “24,” who is well known for his conservative politics. At that time, Mr. Surnow said he could handle the Kennedy saga fairly, telling The New York Times in an interview: “We’re not making judgments about their political decisions. This is a family story.”
But last February, “The Kennedys” was criticized by a group of historians who were shown early drafts of the script by Robert Greenwald, a liberal filmmaker who had obtained copies. Among the critics was Theodore C. Sorensen, the former Kennedy adviser, who said of the screenplays, “Every single conversation with the president in the Oval Office or elsewhere in which I, according to the script, participated, never happened.” (Mr. Sorensen died in October.)
The History Channel said then that the scripts in question were incomplete drafts and that it stood by the accuracy of more current drafts that were annotated by the screenwriter, Stephen Kronish.