EXCLUSIVE: The Kennedys may take an unconventional route to U.S. television screens, via syndication. The producers of the controversial miniseries, which was dropped by History earlier this month, are in talks with Tribune Broadcasting about picking up the 8-hour project starring Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes. A rep for Tribune confirmed that the company has been in talks for the mini, declining further comment.
I hear that Tribune has made an offer and may actually land the mini, which is being shopped by producers Muse Entertainment and Asylum Entertainment. There are also cable nets in the running, but Tribune might have a leg up as History has a say in who gets the program and may not be willing to have it run on a direct competitor. “I’m not sure if History wants another (basic) cable net to air it so they might take less money to have it in syndication,” a source said.
History has to approve a buyer, as it did early on with premium cable network Showtime, which ultimately passed on the mini. DirecTV, which engaged in talks for The Kennedys but ended up not making a deal, also is not a direct competitor to History. (Meanwhile, I hear BBC America made a serious play for the mini but, even if History gives its blessing, sourced doubted the cable net could afford the lavish $25-million production as its offers have come too low.)
Tribune Broadcasting owns 23 stations, mostly CW/Fox affiliates, in 19 markets, including the Top 5: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas, as well as superstation WGN America, which is carried by cable and satellite providers. It is possible that, if Tribune strikes a deal on The Kennedys, the mini could also be made available to stations in markets where Tribune doesn’t have a station.
The Kennedys, which hails form 24 co-creator Joel Surnow, was reportedly dropped by History as a result of political pressure from the Kennedy family. People who have seen the mini call the cancellation an overreaction as they claim President John F. Kennedy is portrayed in a favorable light as a decisive leader during the Cuban missile crisis, proponent of racial equality and an all-around likable guy, with very little-to-no attention paid to his rumored sexual indiscretions.