Kennedys miniseries axed by History

History's first move into scripted programming has been rejected by the net, which says it's "not a fit for the History brand."
January 10, 2011

The Kennedys, an eight-part miniseries chronicling the iconic American political family produced by U.S. prodco Asylum Entertainment and Montreal-based Muse Entertainment, was to be History’s first foray into scripted programming.

No longer. Over the weekend, it was announced by History parent company AETN that the series was being pulled from its schedule.

“Upon completion of the production of The Kennedys, History has decided not to air the eight-part miniseries on the network,” said a statement from AETN. “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.

“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,” concluded the statement.

The coproducers of the series issued a statement of their own regarding the decision and plans for the series, stating, “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.”  The producers have reportedly shopped it to Showtime.

Plans to air the miniseries on Shaw Media’s History Television in Canada, beginning March 6, are still proceeding, and other international broadcasters are expected to follow suit.

The series, developed by 24 co-creator and EP Joel Surnow, stars Greg Kinnear as John F. Kennedy and Katie Holmes as Jackie Kennedy. It was a project that had generated considerable controversy, with filmmaker Robert Greenwald leading an online campaign to have the project shelved, maintaining that it was “right-wing character assassination, not ‘history.’” Brave New Films’ Greenwald obtained an early copy of the script and conducted interviews with assorted Kennedy historians, including one-time Kennedy aide Ted Sorenson, who called the project “vindictive” and “malicious.”  The producers and network had maintained that Greenwald had an early copy of the script and that it had been rewritten.

With files from Etan Vlessing, Playback Daily

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.