With heroic disdain for cheap reality shows and tawdry sexcoms, a big television network schedules a dramatic miniseries that takes a critical look at a popular presidency. Rapacious corporate interests intervene, pressuring the network to cancel it. What happens next?
Well, if the popular president is named Reagan, then America's political progressives revolt against censorship, insisting that the marketplace of ideas can't be ravaged by megacorporate leviathans. Another network steps up -- the series airs! The First Amendment triumphs!
But if the popular president is named Kennedy, the story ends differently. Very differently. Suppression of political criticism becomes corporate good citizenship. Other networks sniff that the show just isn't right for them. And progressives triumphantly take to the Internet to brag about their role in ideological repression: ``We Won! Thanks to you The History Channel has canceled The Kennedys miniseries!''
The Kennedys reportedly is harshly critical of the political dynasty, taking a tough look at the way patriarch Joe Kennedy used his bootlegging wealth to buy influence as well as the compulsive womanizing of his presidential son, John. I say ``reportedly'' because we haven't seen it and perhaps never will.
The show -- developed by Joel Surnow, who produced the hit series 24 -- with a heavy-hitter cast led by Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear was canceled by The History Channel this month before a single one of its eight episodes aired. Not because it was crummy: The History Channel admitted in a statement on the cancellation that "the film is produced and acted with the highest quality.'' The problem, the network said, was that "this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand.
If you're wondering why a TV network would sink $25 million into a show, reviewing scripts and daily shooting for 13 months before deciding that it's "not a fit,'' let me suggest a couple of reasons.... Read my full op-ed column in Tuesday's Miami Herald.