‘The Kennedys’ can’t get advertisers

Although “The Kennedys,” an eight-part miniseries, begins on the cablecaster ReelzChannel on April 3, 80% of the commercial inventory remains unsold. CEO Stan Hubbard revealed to Katy Bachman (AdWeek), “Advertisers are scared to death of this. They told us point blank, ‘It’s too politically hot.'” Indeed, the only ads so far are from nine companies who purchase across all programming on the nascent net.

Reelz Channel picked up “The Kennedys” after the History Channel dropped it in January citing concerns about its accuracy. With only weeks to go before the first airing, ReelzChannel worked hard to attract sponsors but to no avail. For Hubbard, the controversy surrounding the show is misguided. “Once people see this, they’ll wonder what the big deal was. It’s well-researched, it’s not salacious, it isn’t Kennedy bashing. It’s a great cast giving a career performance.”

The Emmy-winning duo from “24” — writers/producers Joel Surnow and Jon Cassar— were among those shepherding “The Kennedys” to the small screen. Oscar contenders Greg Kinnear and Tom Wilkinson heads up the cast as John F. Kennedy, the fallen 35th president, and his father Joseph respectively. Katie Holmes is the glamorous first lady Jacqueline Kennedy while Barry Pepper plays the stalwart brother Robert F. Kennedy.

This year’s Emmys will combine Mini-Series and TV Movies into one catch-all category. In the recent past, the Emmy series race for Best Mini-Series has been between the big-budget HBO blockbusters (“The Pacific,” “John Adams”) versus the costume drama PBS/BBC co-productions (“Little Dorritt,” “Cranford”). However, the History Channel nabbed a surprise nod in the TV Movie category last year for “Moonshot.”

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