by CBS News | January 8, 2011
A controversial miniseries about the Kennedy family has been dropped by History Channel in the U.S. after the network deemed that it was not a fit for the network’s brand.
“We have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand,” the network said in a statement late Friday about the eight-part miniseries, The Kennedys, starring Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes as President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie. Canadian Barry Pepper plays Robert F. Kennedy.
“We recognize historical fiction is an important medium for storytelling and commend all the hard work and passion that has gone into the making of the series, but ultimately deem this as the right programming decision for our network.”
The series drew the ire of several Kennedy administration staffers as well as liberal-leaning documentarian Robert Greenwald, who started a campaign to stop the production on the website stopkennedysmears.com.
They contend the series, filmed in Toronto last summer, contains errors of fact. It is also the brainchild of producer Joel Surnow, the creator of the series 24, who is a well-known conservative.
The series was billed as “an inside look behind the secret doors of the White House,” which also “unveils the secrets of the Kennedy family.”
Former Kennedy aide Theodore Sorensen, who said he got a copy of the script, called the series “malicious” and “vindictive” in a New York Times article last February. He says some scenes depicted never happened. History responded by saying the script had been revised.
Supporters of the family say they aren’t happy about reported allusions in the series to Kennedy’s philandering.
Greenwald, who collected 50,000 signatures, says he can’t believe the series got into production.
“I’ll never understand why the History Channel let it get as far as it did. They’re intelligent people over there.”
While the series may never air in the U.S., it will be shown elsewhere. The Montreal production company behind the series, Muse Entertainment, holds the broadcast rights outside of the U.S. and it has sold the series to foreign networks.
It is set to air in Canada on History Television on March 6.