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Director reveals Kennedy family objection to series

The Canadian director of "The Kennedys" says he is stunned by the History Channel's decision to yank the controversial eight-part mini-series, but said Tuesday allies of the Kennedy family were likely behind the decision to cancel the show.
/ Source: Hollywood Reporter

The Canadian director of "The Kennedys" says he is stunned by the History channel's decision to yank the controversial eight-part mini-series, given that he made every script change the U.S. channel and its lawyers demanded.

"We were very surprised," Jon Cassar told the Canadian Press newswire service Tuesday night at a Fox network press event in Pasadena, Calif. "The actual product takes no political stance one way or the other."

Cassar said allies of the Kennedy family were likely behind the decision by the A&E Television Networks' channel to cancel the show, starring Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes and masterminded by conservative 24 co-creator Joel Surnow.

"I doubt they've even seen it," said Cassar. "They were objecting to it before it started. They were objecting to the idea of it."

The Canadian director added that "every time the History Channel wanted a change, or a lawyer wanted a change, we did it."

And if a scene went too far, "we pulled it back," Cassar told the Canadian newswire service.

The director pointed to an objection early on from the Kennedy camp to a reference to "sexual misadventures" in the White House that was removed.

Said Cassar, "The show is unrecognizable from the first draft, totally unrecognizable."

After History announced it would not air the miniseries, producers began shopping it around to find another home. On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter learned that Showtime, which was seen by many as a possible home for the project, decided not to pick up the series.

"Although 'The Kennedys' is well-produced, well-acted and a quality piece of work, it doesn't fit the Showtime programming brand," a rep for the network told THR in a statement.

The decision is a setback for producers of the eight-part miniseries, which was abruptly pulled from the History Channel network on Jan. 8 in advance of a planned airdate in the spring.

In yanking the project, executives at A&E Television Networks, parent of History, have allowed producers Muse Entertainment and Asylum Entertainment to shop the project to other U.S. networks. (It will air as planned in other countries.)

Starz and FX are among the other networks that have passed on the project.

HBO has its own Kennedys project in development, and networks owned by the Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal and Hearst the three owners of AETN whose executives sit on the board of directors and authorized History to dump the miniseries are unlikely to pick up the project.