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The Cleveland Show
For a while The Kennedys, a mini-series starring Greg Kinnear as John F. Kennedy, Katie Holmes as Jacqueline Kennedy and Barry Pepper as Robert F. Kennedy, was in danger of having its plug pulled before it even hit the airwaves. Originally ordered by the History Channel in the United States, which ultimately passed on airing the series, The Kennedys had trouble finding a home. Being snubbed by the networks didn't question the mini-series' superb writing, quality production values or its award-worthy performances (which also includes Tom Wilkinson portraying Joseph Kennedy Sr., Diana Hardcastle as Rose Kennedy and Chris Diamantopoulos playing Frank Sinatra). Instead, it was the mini-series' laundry list of controversies about the Kennedy clan that was rumoured to be angering most of the members of America's royal family, as well as Hollywood insiders.
Spanning the era from Joe Kennedy's start as America's Ambassador to the United Kingdom to the days shortly after Bobby Kennedy's assassination, The Kennedys dug into the family's vault of truth, secrets and rumours. There were the usual gossip items about Joe Kennedy "buying" the White House with help of big-time mobster Sam Giancana (via Frank Sinatra), Joe encouraging his sons to have extra-marital affairs but emphasizing they should never let their wives find out, and Joe allegedly bribing Jackie with one million dollars not to divorce John until after he left the White House. The familiar stories of pharmaceutical dependency and infidelity, in particular with Marilyn Monroe, saw the History Channel play 'hot potato' with The Kennedys.
Director Jon Cassar explains that he and executive Joel Surnow fact-checked by going through archives of films and papers, countless documentaries and dozens of Kennedy bios, like Steven M. Gillion's widely acclaimed The Kennedy Assassination -- 24 Hours After.
Apparently, the Kennedy family doesn't to have a problem with the mini-series. Many thought Caroline Kennedy would object to the show since she has a book of transcribed, unheard tapes of her dad's private thoughts scheduled for release later this year. The only company to officially release any sort of statement was the History Channel, the network that original ordered up the modestly-budgeted program, who deemed, "This dramatic interpretation is not fit for the History brand."
In light of their political leanings, those behind the production weren't happy with how many of the more controversial aspects of the life of America's 35th were being presented as fact. While most of the actors have chosen to remain tight-lipped about the controversies surrounding the series, Greg Kinnear admitted, "I really enjoyed playing President Kennedy. You have a lot of people who aren't going to like it for one reason or another. But there is nothing in the film that hasn't been published in other Kennedy biographies you can find in the school library your kids go to."
Moreover, Katie Holmes recently told an American publication, "I was just as shocked over the controversy as everyone else," though she admitted she was offered the chance to play Jackie Kennedy. "It felt odd to be in that pink suit. She [Jacqueline Kennedy]'s not on the set so I couldn't ask 'Is that how it really went? What else can I do?'...I felt good about what we did."
Kinnear says that the controversy that has been stirred up by the film is based on a mere handful of opinions. "I don't want to sound glib, but I'm not sure I care. I just hope a lot of people get to see it. It happened. Life moves on."
The Kennedys airs on Global starting Monday, July 4.
By: Earl Dittman