The Kennedy Quash

Ah Hollywood…how you amuse me and not for your cinematic efforts, but because you’re still so easily politicized. 

And it’s not like you’ve never fallen victim to something like this befre.  Remember a little thing that went down in the 50’s called McCarthyism and how you scrambled to offer up your own to the Commumist paranoia?    Though I would imagine that particular witch-hunt is one of Tinsel Towns more tarnished moments.

Well, that and the premier of “Heaven’s Gate”.

We have learned in recent days that the History Channel has pulled the plug on “The Kennedys,” an expensive miniseries on the first family starring Greg.Kinnear as the president and Katie Holmes as Jackie.   We’re talking a juicy, eight-part project, filmed last year and produced by Joel Surnow, creator of the Fox series “24”  and avowed Conservative.

Just how Conservative?

Hard core, folks. 

Surnow  is a full supporter of the Republican Party.  He donated money to the campaign of Rick Santorum and has frequently,expressed particular admiration for former President Ronald Reagan and probaby feels Glenn Beck has talent. 

And if THAT doesn’t convince you, try this on for size–he’s a close friend of Rush Limbaugh and a self-described “isolationist”  with  “no faith in nation building.”  But here’s the real cherry on the sundae, folks:  he even owns the American flag that flew over Baghdad during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which was sent to him as a gift from one of the regiments.

Great. Fine. He’s a patriot.  I’m cool with that. 

But Hollywood???  Not so much.

The series had tentatively set a March premiere date, but because  Surnow was involved, that prompted suspicions about how the family would be portrayed, and Kennedy family supporters cast aspersions on historical inaccuracies in an early draft of the script.  And for a while, the network stood by the project, despite its liberties with some details about the Kennedy family, but apparently got cold feet after pressure from its owners: Disney, Hearst and NBC Universal

But wait, there are more detractors. 

A top Disney executive, Disney-ABC Media Networks co-chairwoman Anne Sweeney, is also on the board of directors for the Special Olympics, the organization started by the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, President Kennedy’s sister.  Disney-ABC owns a portion of The History Channel.

And then Liberal filmmaker, Robert Greenwald collected 50 thousand petitions urging History not to air it, and he even produced a short film condemning the project.  He got his mitts on a script, which included one scene where  President Kennedy tells his brother Robert about his need to have sex with other women.

Former Kennedy aide Theodore Sorensen also harshly condemned the film, saying scenes in the script where he was depicted didn’t actually occur.

I think it’s interesting that revisionist history is demanded by the Left on this matter.  From everything I’ve ever read or heard, it is completely plausible that JFK felt this way and expressed these feelings to his brother.   But I can’t condemn too pointedly.  A  less than kind series about Ronald Reagan was pulled from one of the networks back in the mid 80’s as a result of a similar protest.   So, revisionist history is attempted on both sides of the political fence.

For the Democrats and JFK, it dates backs to late 1963.  From what I’ve heard, Jackie herself made  the very first to attempt to ‘white wash’ the entire Kennedy administration with all those Camelot attributes.

Here’s how all that began. 

One week after the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas, his widow summoned presidential chronicler Theodore H. White to the Kennedy family compound in Hyannis Port.   She wanted White to write an essay about her husband for Life Magazine. 

It’s been well reported that Jackie  spoke to White for four hours, until just past midnight, with “composure,” a “calm voice,” and “total recall.” It was a rambling monologue about the assassination, her late husband’s love of history dating from his sickly childhood forward and her views on how he should be remembered–namely, she didn’t want him immortalized by “bitter” reporters who been his staunchest critiscs.   New York Times columnist Arthur Krock comes to mind.   No, Jackie wanted John’s memory as president to be sanitized.  

 White sais that while well-versed in the classics, Jackie felt “ashamed” that she was unable to think of a better historical metaphor  for the Kennedy presidency.   She then went the contemporary route.  She told White that  her “obsession” was the popular Broadway show Camelot,  which opened  weeks after Kennedy was elected. The  musical popularized the legend of the British medieval King Arthur, his wife Queen Guinevere, and the famed knights of the Round Table.  Jackie claimed that before going to sleep, Jack  listened to the  album soundtrack as it played on his “old Victrola.”

The finished product was entitled, “For President Kennedy: An Epilogue,” a thousand-word reminiscence for Life’s December 6th issue and yes, Camelot was a central theme throughout the article. 

In the years since the article was published,  many of Kennedy’s friends, especially the intellectual ones, have tried to dismiss or downplay the Camelot image,  suggesting that it would have  made JFK cringe–I would assume because of the schlock factor.   Years later, Harvard economist  and Kennedy friend, John Kenneth Galbraith said Jackie soon  came to regret using  the Camelot metaphor and eventually said it was  “overdone”  when describing the Kennedy White House.      Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.,  another JFK compadre backed that up calling it  a “myth turned into a cliché”  that had no real application to President Kennedy’s life at all.

The History Channel and its corporate owner/operators  don’t own the rights to The Kennedys.  It now has free agent status  which is why Surnow and others are shopping the series around.   The latest word on the street is that Showtime might be interested in picking up its option.   I hope so.  I’d watch just to see Katie Holmes attempt to play the former First Lady.  I can ONLY imagine hearing her trying to duplicate Jackie’s acccent– that distinct  New York version of Middle American speak that was used by upper-class speakers of her era.  

For example, water pronounced  WAR-dare.

Well, at least Katie is a brunette as Jackie  was (see the compare and contrast photo above) and like Jackie, Katie is Catholic or was BEFORE her Scientological/Tom Cruisien brain scramble, but based on what I know about this young woman’s rather limited acting chops, I would imagine that’s probably where any resemblance ends.


One comment

  1. I’m told I look like Jackie constantly. When I was in elementary my principal called me “Lil Jackie O” and to this day I hear it at least once a week. Although I’m no actress… I blow away miss Holmes when it comes to looking like Jackie AND I can say” Wardare ” effortlessly 😉

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