Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Kennedys...without a home

The much-anticipated mini-series, The Kennedys, currently has no home, at least here in the United States.

The History Channel was prepared to air the mini-series about the life of President John F. Kennedy and his family, but pulled plans for the program once concerns were raised about the historical authenticity of the contents.

The History Channel brought in two noted historians, Robert Dallek and Steven M. Gillon, to assist once concerns about the facts, or lack thereof, were raised by those involved with the project. (Dallek authored An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, a book I recommend for anyone interested in the Kennedy presidency and legacy.)

Dallek's and Gillon's concerns, as they read the screenplays, ultimately raised enough red flags that the plug was pulled, not only by History but by other networks who were approached about the mini-series.

The show will air in 30 countries, including Canada and Britain. However, the only chance of U.S. consumers seeing the series will be if DirecTV, a subscription satellite service, agrees to air the show.

In a story on this topic in today's New York Times, Gary Lico, chief executive of CableU, a research firm that tracks cable television, said, "I don't think it's (a certain amount of fictionalization) unique to television; talk to me about Social Network," referencing the Golden Globe winning Best Picture, a fictionalized account of the creation of Facebook.

Personally, it's a disappointment that a topic with so much material and promise has died a programming death because the creators felt the need to be too aggressive with their artistic liberties. I applaud The History Channel for conducting its due diligence, and then saying "no."

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