The History Channel has decided not to air "The Kennedys," a much-anticipated eight-episode miniseries starring Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes as John F. and Jackie Kennedy. The cable channel says that, although the "dramatic interpretation" of the early days of the Kennedy administration is well-executed, such "historical fiction" isn't a good "fit" for the History brand. It wasn't that simple, however: The network was also under pressure from the Kennedy clan, and from historians who said the script portrayed the late president in an unfair and unflattering light. Should the channel have let viewers decide for themselves? (Watch a trailer for "The Kennedys")
The History Channel should not have caved: Network executives aren't admitting it, says Thomas Lifson in The American Thinker, but their main motive here is avoiding the wrath of the Kennedy clan, which "retains powerful showbiz and political clout that could make life very uncomfortable for those damaging the Camelot myths." But if the miniseries tells "the truth about JFK (and RFK) and their many trysts with gangster molls, movies stars, and random attractive women," the public deserves to see it.
"History Channel pulls the plug on 'The Kennedys'"
It is easy to see why the Kennedys were peeved: This is a show that "paints one of American history's most beloved families as scheming gangsters who bought their way into the White House," says Mikey O'Connell in Zap2It. It's not hard to understand why two prominent members of the clan — Caroline Kennedy and Maria Shriver — would object. And those two have enough connections in the media business to put real pressure on The History Channel and its owner, A&E Television Networks.
"'The Kennedys' miniseries axed by... the Kennedys"
Judging from one of its executive producers, it may well be biased: This miniseries was developed by Joel Surnow, "co-creator of the awful, Bush-era right wing propaganda program '24,'" says Jeff Neumann in Gawker, so "it's not hard to imagine how many liberties Surnow took with JFK," who's not "exactly popular among right wingers in the first place." The late JFK adviser Ted Sorensen described an early version of the script as "vindictive" — if The History Channel is interested in facts, it was right to reject what sounds like a partisan hit job.
"History Channel thankfully shelves 'The Kennedys'"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- China's leader is telling the People's Liberation Army to prepare for war
- How I lost all my money
- The best books we read in 2014
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- The religious right isn't retreating — it's reforming
- How to save money: 12 great personal finance tips
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
Subscribe to the Week