by Philip Caufield at NY Daily News at January 10, 2011
A&E Television Network’s decision to abruptly pull the plug on the controversial miniseries “The Kennedys” was the result of some behind-the-scenes hardball tactics by members of America’s first family of politics, according to a report.
Both Caroline Kennedy and Maria Shriver put pressure on bigwigs at A&E and other media heavyweights to kill the eight-part series, which was set to air in the spring on The History Channel, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
A&E, The History Channel’s parent company, announced its decision on Friday, saying that it was “not a fit for the History brand,” THR reported.
Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy who briefly considered a run for senator in New York two years ago, was said to have lobbied contacts at Disney/ABC with influence over the project and used her involvement in a forthcoming book about her mother as leverage.
Kennedy had agreed to edit, write an introduction and help promote the still-untitled book, which is to be published by Disney’s Hyperion publishing division and is based on hours of previously unheard audio recordings with Jackie O, but could have proved uncooperative if the project aired.
Shriver, the former first lady of California who is the daughter of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, JFK’s younger sister, was said to have pestered friends at both NBC, where she worked as a news reporter, and Disney/ABC to shelve the project, according to THR.
The miniseries, which starred Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes, courted controversy from the moment it was announced in December 2009.
A former Kennedy adviser, Theodore Sorensen, attacked the project in The New York Times, calling it “vindictive,” and liberal filmmaker Robert Greenwald called the show “political character assassination.”
The Camelot biopic isn’t completely dead, though.
It will air in Canada and in foreign countries, and its producers are continuing to shop the project around to cable networks, including Showtime, which broadcast another controversial presidential series, “The Reagans,” after CBS killed it in 2003, THR reported.