'The Kennedys': Worth the Wait?

The miniseries, which debuts on April 3, has stirred up loads of controversy and fierce debate -- but few positive reviews

Even without any controversy, the seven-part miniseries The Kennedys (premiering Sunday, April 3, at 8 p.m. ET on ReelzChannel), would have grabbed lots of viewers. Who isn't at least a little fascinated with this iconic political (and, of course, highly attractive) family? John Kennedy's legacy has it all: heroic leadership, secret love affairs, political intrigue. Like any biopic, this one would have people asking: Can Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes pull off a realistic depiction of John and Jackie?

Of course, there has been controversy. The History Channel dropped the project back in January, allegedly bowing to pressure from powerful people (possibly including some Kennedy clan members) who were displeased with the rumored negative depiction of the family. Now that the miniseries is finally airing on the ReelzChannel (after being passed over by some other networks), the media hype is exponentially greater.

Suddenly, Holmes' promotional rounds for the project became much more interesting: Where was she when she found out that the History Channel had pulled the plug? How did she feel about it? Did Tom Cruise offer to use some of his mad Mission: Impossible skills to exact revenge on the execs who did this?

Holmes answered the first two questions in an Entertainment Weekly interview. Apparently, the reporter didn't think to ask the third one. Whatever.

"I was in Whole Foods in the checkout line when I got a phone call from my agent," she told the magazine. "I was as shocked as everybody else because we just didn't see it coming. So I just kind of said, okay, I hope this finds a home because a lot of work went into it. This is something I don’t have control over. It’s my job to not go into the whys and what happened. They don't need that from me. Of course, I definitely felt saddened and was waiting patiently, nervously to see what would happen."

As for getting to play the role of Jackie, Holmes gave the usual, gushing response about being "very excited and flattered because I love her... I just loved every minute of it."

Most critics, sadly, have not loved the series. "Where The Kennedys really fails is in its attempt to make this family -- this lively family -- seem real," writes Nancy Franklin in The New Yorker. "(Barry) Pepper and Greg Kinnear are merely earnest and blandly likable as Bobby and Jack, lacking the Kennedy spark, and Holmes hasn't deepened as an actress since her not-very-deep days in the teen soap opera Dawson's Creek. There's no chemistry between Holmes and Kinnear."

"Controversy shouldn't obscure the major flaw in The Kennedys," writes Variety's Brian Lowery. "Not mangling history or sullying a famous family, but being painfully shallow and woefully bad."

Still, these reviews probably won't stop people from tuning in. After all the hype and flap, don't you want to see it for yourself?

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