UPDATE: Muse Entertainment and Asylum Entertainment, who co-produce The Kennedys, just issued the following statement about the mini-series’ cancellation by History: “We are proud of the work all of our talent put into the making of The Kennedys 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 in the United States will join viewers from around the world in having an opportunity to watch this series in the near future.”
PREVIOUS: The Kennedys miniseries, just canceled History, is now being shopped to Showtime. The 8-part miniseries, a brain child of 24 co-creator/executive producer Joel Surnow, stars Greg Kinnear as JFK, Katie Holmes as Jackie, Barry Pepper as Bobby Kennedy, and Tom Wilkinson as Joseph Kennedy. I hear the stunning cancellation, which was done after the mini had been completed, was done 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. History is part of the A&E Networks, which is co-owned by the Walt Disney Co. Disney’s interest in the company is overseen by Disney-ABC TV Group president Anne Sweeney who is an A&E Networks board member. She is also a board member on the Special Olympics, which is synonymous with the Kennedy family, having been launched by John F. Kennedy’s sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, with Tim Shriver serving as current chairman and CEO. Because History has an exclusive window on the mini, the network had to sign off on a potential buyer. I hear they have given their blessing for the mini to be taken to Showtime, and the producers have contacted the pay cable network. Surnow, of course, has a relationship with new Showtime programming chief David Nevins, who oversaw 24 while at Imagine TV. If Showtime picks up The Kennedys, it will be the second time it has rescued a mini-series about a presidential family whose original network had pulled at the last minute for political reasons. In 2003, it ran The Reagans, originally produced for sister broadcast network CBS. A&E Networks’ Abbe Raven and History’s Nancy Dubuc had been passionate about The Kennedys, which was to be History’s first foray into the scripted arena. Dubuc and Surnow had also stressed that there is no political agenda behind the project despite Surnow’s conservative leanings and despite early criticism from democratic historians and people from JFK’s inner circle. In a statement today, History said: “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.” Here’s an extended teaser:
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