by David Bauder of the Associated Press at USA Today– January 8, 2011
The Showtime pay cable network has been approached to air the eight-part series, a spokesman said on Saturday. Eight years ago, Showtime aired a movie about President Reagan that CBS had made but decided not to broadcast when it faced pressure from some of that former president’s family.
Showtime won’t make a decision about the Kennedy miniseries until its executives have a chance to see it, spokesman Richard Licata said.
The multi-million dollar miniseries, which stars Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes as John and Jackie Kennedy, was History’s most expensive project ever. But the network issued a statement late Friday saying that after watching the finished product, “we have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand.”
Producers have sold the rights to air the series in other countries, including Canada. The producers, Muse Entertainment and Asylum, said in a statement they were confident U.S. television viewers would have a chance to see the series.
A concerted effort was made to quash the series. Liberal filmmaker Robert Greenwald collected 50,000 petitions urging History not to air it, and he produced a short film condemning the project on a website, stopkennedysmears.com. He had been given an early script, which included one scene where President Kennedy tells his brother Robert about his need to have sex with other women.
Former Kennedy aide Theodore Sorensen also harshly condemned the film, saying scenes in the script where he was depicted didn’t actually occur.
History also likely felt corporate pressure. The network is owned by the A&E Television Networks, which itself is owned jointly by NBC Universal, the Walt Disney Co. and the Hearst Corp.
A top Disney executive, Disney-ABC Media Networks co-chairwoman Anne Sweeney, is also on the board of directors for the Special Olympics, the organization started by the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, President Kennedy’s sister.
Hyperion, a Disney-owned publisher, plans in September to release a book and audiotapes based on interviews that Jackie Kennedy gave to historian and family friend Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in 1964. They had been sealed since then but will be released on the OK of daughter Caroline Kennedy, who is scheduled to edit the project and write an introduction. It’s the 50th anniversary of the first year of Kennedy’s presidency.