Joel Surnow’s eight-part miniseries The Kennedys—rejected by the History Channel because its “dramatic interpretation” was deemed “not a fit for the History brand,” which is reserved for shows about Bigfoot and Larry The Cable Guy teaching you about America—has also been passed on by Showtime. Unfortunately for the series’ future, this was seemingly the last possible refuge for the Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes-starring film, given that Showtime’s programming chief is David Nevins, who worked with Surnow on 24 and thus may have been inclined to help him out. (But there’s still Canada!)
There’s been no public explanation for why Showtime didn’t pick up the project, but of course, it’s been reported that The Kennedys became a target of both Caroline Kennedy and fellow Camelot scion Maria Shiver after the script was deemed “vindictive” and “malicious” by a former JFK aide—primarily, it was said, because Surnow (an outspoken conservative who provided neocon boners on the reg with 24) seemed intent on creating a film that deemphasized the Kennedys’ accomplishments in favor of emphasizing scenes like one where “a secret service agent with an urgent national security message tries in vain to get the attention of President Kennedy while he is having sex in a swimming pool,” and another where JFK muses, “If I don't have some strange ass every couple of days, I get migraines.” Because hey, who knows for sure that he didn’t? It’s not as though he taped everything like Nixon did. History is in the eye of the beholder, after all.
Interestingly, this whole incident is reminiscent of the fallout over the 2003 TV movie The Reagans, which was decried at the time as “leftist historical revisionism” by conservatives and pulled from CBS, only to eventually air on… Showtime. So apparently either Showtime learned its lesson from that, or this is yet more evidence that Showtime is just another tool of the left-wing media, what with its shows celebrating pot-smoking moms and so on. Your pick, according to your ideology. But whatever the reason, it’s looking increasingly as though we’ll have to wait until the DVD to see Kinnear make a phrase like “strange ass” sound boyishly charming in his Boston accent.