Did the Kennedys Strong-arm Network into Axing ‘The Kennedys’?

by | January 10, 2011 at 2:37 PM | TV News

Katie Holmes as Jackie O in 'The Kennedys' (Photo: Splash News)

Katie Holmes as Jackie O in 'The Kennedys' (Photo: Splash News)

Members of the Kennedy family worked behind the scenes to help put the kybosh on the controversial History miniseries “The Kennedys,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The eight-part project, from conservative “24” creator Joel Surnow, was completed and planned for spring when it was abruptly yanked from the cable channel’s schedule last week.

History Channel Abruptly Pulls “Kennedys” Miniseries

Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. and Jackie, personally lobbied Anne Sweeney, who is on the board of History parent A & E Television Networks, which is owned by Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal and Hearst.

Kennedy also has a book deal with Disney’s Hyperion publishing division, and will edit and write an introduction for a collection of interviews with the late Jackie Kennedy this fall. Sweeney is also the chief executive of Disney/ABC Television Group, on whose “Good Morning America” Caroline Kennedy has agreed to appear to promote the book. That level of participation in publicity might have been unlikely if the miniseries had gone forward, THR reported.

Also, Maria Shriver, daughter of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, is friends with Sweeney and attends the same church in the Los Angeles area. A source told THR that Shriver criticized the Kennedy project to Sweeney after an attack on a leaked script was published in The New York Times. The former NBC news employee also said to have complained to outgoing NBC Universal executives Jeff Zucker and Jeff Gaspin.

AETN has declined comment beyond the previously released statement from a History rep saying: “we have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand.”

“The Kennedys” is still scheduled for broadcast in Canada on March 6 and AETN has allowed the producers to shop the project to other channels. They have reportedly targeted Showtime, where exec David Nevins was said to be watching it this weekend.

Are you interested in seeing “The Kennedys”? Do you think it’s important that historical dramas be completely accurate?