History Channel Mysteriously Cancels The Kennedys; Miniseries May Land On Showtime

A&E Television Networks revealed on Friday that it has decided not to air The Kennedys, an eight-part miniseries starring Greg Kinnear as JFK, Katie Holmes as wife Jackie, Barry Pepper as Bobby Kennedy, and Tom Wilkinson as Joseph Kennedy.

“While the film is produced and acted with the highest quality, after viewing the final product in its totality, we have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand,” the network said in a statement cited by The Hollywood Reporter.

Why the surprise snub, after production had been completed of a script that went through several rewrites? While A&E Television Networks told THR the series’ historical accuracy didn’t meet History’s rigorous standards, Deadline hears that the move came “under political pressure from the Kennedy family who were not comfortable with the project coming out in the year of the 50th anniversary of Camelot.”

Will The Kennedys ever see the light of day? Probably. As happened with The Reagans, a presidential bioseries developed for CBS in 2003, Showtime is being given the option of premiering The Kennedys, says Deadline..

Kennedys co-producers Muse Entertainment and Asylum Entertainment said in a statement, “We are proud of the work all of our talent … and the painstaking efforts that went into creating a drama that is compelling while rich in historic detail. Although we regret this does not fit into the History Channel’s plans, we are confident that television viewers [will have] an opportunity to watch this series in the near future.”

Watch a teaser trailer for The Kennedys, obtained by Deadline:

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  1. unlfan03 says:

    Striving for actual historical context and accuracy. Must be a new direction for the stations. As the series didn’t have aliens, Nazi’s nor did it take place in a pawn shop or on the road looking for that “hidden treasure” it really didn’t fit into the company’s programing schedule.

    • Nicole says:

      I felt the same way – they don’t exactly have the highest standards. Here’s one explanation of the behind-the-scenes goings on from LaineyGossipdotcom, and it seems pretty believable:

      •History is owned by A&E. A&E is part owned by Disney.
      •Caroline Kennedy has a book deal with Disney/Hyperion and she’s working on a project about her parents, and will be releasing brand new audio of her mother along with it. She’s also supposed to promote the collection of materials all over ABC, also affiliated with Disney.
      •Caroline supposedly threatened to pull back on cooperation if History went ahead with the miniseries.
      •History killed it.

    • Ryan Vann says:

      That’s hilarious. Coincidentally, when I first heard of this story, I jested that perhaps there weren’t enough aliens in the mini.

  2. Mgterry says:

    There was a show on the History Channel yesterday about aliens building the pyramids, but this mini series doesn’t live up to their high standards. Really, History Channel? Really? Apparently Ice Road Truckers and Top Gear are more fitting for a channel about “history.”

  3. Lilia says:

    The film is produced and acted with the highest quality? Starring Katie Holmes? Somehow I doubt that.

  4. Briana says:

    That trailer was so good. Is NBC now in charge of the History Channel or something? Did we all miss a memo?

  5. Michelle says:

    Someone had best find a way to get this thing on the air. I want to see it. The History Channel has become a joke. Airing this could have gone a long way in re-establishing their credibility.

  6. Don J says:

    I feel bad for director Jon Cassar, who used to work on 24 and directed and produced all 8 episodes. I follow his Twitter feed and his worked really hard on this project last summer.

  7. Dwigt says:

    If the History Channel refuses to broadcast it and, at the same time, greenlights a 13-episode series named “Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy”, there must have been some real issues with “The Kennedys”.

  8. Jen says:

    If they were worried about historical accuracy, the History Channel never should have approved this project in the first place, as stories like this always take some poetic license. It looks pretty good, so someone should jump all over it and air it.

  9. Joey says:

    The real reasoning behind this being canceled: It didn’t feature enough old, fat, white men buying priceless family heirlooms from rednecks. That is the real standard that the miniseries did not meet.

  10. Bazinga! says:

    The Kennedy’s must own quite a bit of stock in A&E. The promo looked good. Hope Showtime picks it up.

  11. Zorro says:

    Note that THR wrote “The miniseries is still scheduled to air in Canada on March 6, and will still be broadcast internationally.”
    Regards from France.

  12. Charlie says:

    Word is that the film was utter tabloid junk, with manufactured events left and right in order to be as salacious as possible. I don’t know if the Kennedys still have to power to pull this or not, but they probably should have.

    Oh, and the “vetting” of the script for accuracy was apparently a joke, performed by rightist historians with an agenda. The long-range goal, folks, is to make us believe the assassinations were justified. Which sort of proves that the assassination is still important even today.

  13. Stephanie says:

    Television has always been a medium incredibly open to historical interpretation, and given that the majority of History’s programming is nothing more than events recreated by producers and directors, I’m not buying their line about The Kennedys not fitting “the History brand.”

    If the Kennedy family had the project axed, they should come out and at least recognize their involvement. And whether or not the series was written and vetted by anyone on the right or the left, the Kennedys remain one of the most interesting and prolific dynasties in this country. This series would be no different than the numerous books and films which have already tackled the Kennedy story. Beyond that, 50 years of Camelot has already left the public to form vastly different opinions on the events that shaped the Kennedy legacy.

    I can only imagine one of them is close to another run at public office and is trying to prevent any extended media scrutiny on the family. But even as a Democrat, I for one would like to see this mini series. I’d even purchase Showtime to watch it.

  14. Mary Ann says:

    Even if this show never makes it to broadcast here, I am willing to bet it will eventually be released on DVD, so if you want to see it, you will be able to.

  15. Yabby says:

    Based on the trailer, if there were Razzie awards for television, Kinnear & Holmes would win the worst of the century! Looks like a horribly acted mess, except for maybe Barry Pepper (even the ever reliable Tom Wilkinson looks lost).

  16. Inez Gionti says:

    I have not made any other coments, but the one I made today. I guess you decided, I didn’t agree with you, so you erased it. Shame on you!
    You are part of what goes wrong in this country, and it is my understanding that you only want the bad news, and not the truth. Trust me it will come out in then end.

  17. i think watches are very interesting