Kennedy Mini-Series Axed by History Channel (update)

Project faced political pressure; producers looking for new broadcasters

Under mounting political pressure, A&E Television has made the surprising decision to pull its upcoming mini-series "The Kennedys" from its schedule. 

Kennedy defenders, including former presidential advisor Theodore Sorenson, were critical of the project from the beginning, in part because it came from "24" creator and avowed conservative Joel Surnow. Opponents said the miniseries, which featured a top-shelf cast including Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear, had a right-wing slant.

The big-budget series was finished and originally slated to air this spring.

“Upon completion of the production of 'The Kennedys,' History has decided not to air the 8-part miniseries on the network,” the network said in a statement. “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.”

The question now is where else the show might air. Showtime responded to a report that it was being shopped to the the network by saying Saturday it has not seen the project.

A source close to the production told TheWrap on Friday: "It's not 100 percent going to Showtime, or anywhere else right now … Foreign sales are still in place and conversations are going on with a number of broadcasters to find a U.S. home for 'The Kennedys.'"

Liberal documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald helped lead the opposition to the project, telling the New York Times the project amounted to "political character assassination.” 

"We are elated to learn that the History Channel chose to pull the plug on this project," Greenwald said Friday. "This is a great victory for the legacy of President Kennedy and for the entire Kennedy family.”

The criticism mirrored objections to "The Reagans," a miniseries CBS decided not to air in 2003 after complaints from conservatives. It eventually aired on Showtime.

Producers Muse Entertainment and Asylum Entertainment said in a statement they were "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."

The Hollywood Reporter first broke the news.