By now, you've probably heard a lot of things about the miniseries 'The Kennedys.' You've likely heard that's it's wildly inaccurate and that's why History Channel dropped it. Or maybe you've heard it spun the other way -- that it's too close to the bone, and the remaining Kennedys fought the production. You're probably aware that Katie Holmes plays the legendary Jackie O. and does a terrible job. If you've been following it very closely, you may also be aware that the series was produced by a conservative (Joel Surnow, '24') and a whole bunch of spin has been applied to that angle too.
All of these things are true, but none of them get the heart of what makes 'The Kennedys' so deliciously bad.
But unfortunately for the 'The Kennedys,' and the suddenly upstart Reelz Channel, this miniseries may end up having more in common with Charlie Sheen's 'Torpedo of Truth' tour, another easily predictable disaster that somehow drew audiences in despite their better instincts.
The first two hours of the series, which rotated between the 1960 presidential election and various stages of World War II, served as an introduction to this interpretation of the Kennedy clan. The narrative covers a lot of ground, usually in three- or six-month intervals. We see major events in the family's history, like the sudden demise of Joseph Kennedy's presidential ambitions, eldest son Joe's death in WWII, many walks on the beach at the family compound in Cape Cod, and the launch of Jack's political career.
But much of 'The Kennedys' is like walking around a wax museum animated by low-grade robotics. Thanks to strong casting, the characters look remarkably like the the historical figures they're playing; it's only once you see them up close that it becomes clear how stiff and vacuous many of them are.
According to Variety, Holmes, who rose to fame on the WB teen drama 'Dawson's Creek,' has been cast as First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 'The Kennedys,' an eight-hour miniseries set to air on History in 2011.
Also joining the cast: Greg Kinnear ('As Good as it Gets,' 'Little Miss Sunshine'), as President John F. Kennedy, Barry Pepper, as Senator Robert Kennedy, and two-time Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson ('In the Bedroom,' "Michael Clayton'), who will play their father, Joe Kennedy Sr.
The channel, best known for its epic documentaries, will reportedly take a stab at scripted television with an eight-hour miniseries based on the Kennedy family, the Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
'24''s Joel Surnow will helm 'The Kennedys,' with Stephen Kronish set to pen all eight episodes. Currently, the miniseries is set to air in spring 2011, and will pit the events of the early '60s (among them the Bay of Pigs, the Cubin Missile Crisis) as a backdrop to the more private relationships of the former first family.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, HBO and the BBC are adapting Caryl Churchill's short play A Number for HBO. This could be the first in a series of short play adaptations for HBO.
A Number will star Tom Wilkinson and Rhys Ifans. Wilkinson plays a father who encounters his cloned sons ten years later. Ifans will play both sons. James MacDonald directed the original stage play and will also direct the one-hour show for HBO.
Of course, whether the idea works or not will depend on how good the material is and whether it adapts well to television. Nevertheless, I like the idea of doing a series of one-shot "plays" for television that can stand or fail on their own. It wouldn't be too dissimilar to anthology series like The Twilight Zone, offering something completely new each time.