Too sleazy a portrayal? A controversial miniseries on the Kennedy family that would have aired in during the 50th anniversary of the start of the Kennedy presidency has been pulled by the History Channel because it does not fit the “History brand,” the network said.
The eight-part series from Muse Entetainment drew criticism during its production from figures such as former Kennedy administration aide Theodore Sorensen, who attacked the scripts as inaccurate, “The scripts…[are] one-sided and right-winger [and] suffer from a vindictive, malicious approach.”
Also biographer Nigel Hamilton, who wrote a trilogy on the life of Bill Clinton: “I find the version of JFK that we see in the script to be really nonsensical—a licencse for the, to switch back to the private lives of the Kennedys…It presents him as simply a sex addict.”
He just couldn’t see how this could be presented in the context of history and that it belonged on a different network.
The role of producer Joel Surnow, a political conservative, also drew suspicion from fans of the Kennedy family.
“We have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand,” the network said in a statement.
History said the decision was made after viewing the entire series, which stars Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes as President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie.
“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,” History said in a statement.
NBC Universal, Disney and the Hearst own A&E Television Networks, which owns History. It’s not clear who made the decision at History or A&E to pull the plug, given the joint ownership, but filmmaker Robert Greenwald probably helped. He was behind a petition drive to get the movie pulled. His www.stopkennedysmears.com, was set up with a short film that attacked the miniseries: “Tell the History Channel this belongs in the National Enquirer.” Greenwald said more than 50,000 people had signed his petition.
“We Won! Thanks to you the History Channel has cancelled The Kennedys miniseries! We sent the History Channel over 50,000 people who raised their hands at Stop Kennedy Smears to refuse to watch their programming until they stopped running politically motivated fiction as historical ‘fact’. This is a great victory for the legacy of President Kennedy and for the entire Kennedy family,” said the site.
“The Kennedys,” is still expected to be seen in other countries, as Muse has sold rights to various other networks.