Report: Kennedy Family Pressure Helped Kill Miniseries

Katie Holmes arrives for ELLE Magazine's 16th Annual Women in Hollywood Tribute in Los Angeles on Oct. 19, 2009.
AP Photo/Matt Sayles
Katie Holmes arrives for ELLE Magazine's 16th Annual Women in Hollywood Tribute in Los Angeles on Oct. 19, 2009.
AP Photo/Matt Sayles

NEW YORK (CBS) Pressure from the Kennedy family reportedly played a key role in the History channel's decision to not air its controversial miniseries "The Kennedys."

The eight-part miniseries, starring Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes, was pulled from the channel's lineup on Jan. 7 before its planned airdate in the spring.

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A rep for the History parent A&E told The Hollywood Reporter that "after viewing the final product in its totality, we have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand."

According to THR, none of History's advertisers or sponsors complained about the miniseries. But members of the Kennedy family strongly lobbied A&E to end the project since it was announced in December 2009, according to a source close to the situation. In recent weeks, the report states, those efforts increased.

A&E Television Networks (AETN) is owned by a consortium including the Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal and Hearst. According to THR, Caroline Kennedy, daughter of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy, personally lobbied Disney/ABC Television Group exec Anne Sweeney, who serves on the AETN board.

Kennedy also has a book deal with Disney's Hyperion publishing outlet - she is set to edit, write an introduction for and promote a collection of previously unreleased interviews with her mother. She's also expected to release some of the 6.5 hours of previously unheard audiotapes of the former first lady that make up the basis of the book. But, the report states, that level of cooperation might have been unlikely if History had gone ahead with the project.

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Kennedy family member Maria Shriver reportedly used her close ties to NBC Universal, where she worked for years in its news division, to voice her displeasure for the miniseries. She is said to have spoken to outgoing NBCU execs Jeff Zucker and Jeff Gaspin about the project.

A source also told THR that Shriver criticized "The Kennedys" project to an AETN board member after a leaked early script was attacked in the New York Times as "vindictive" and "malicious" by a former JFK aide.

"The Kennedys" is still scheduled to be broadcast in Canada on March 6, and will also air in foreign countries. AETN has allowed producers Asylum Entertainment and Muse Entertainment to shop the miniseries to another U.S. network.