The Girl Next Door
Lights, cameras, Camelot kick-off
Dark Kennedy saga has no Marilyn yet
By Maxine Shen
As filming on a controversial, warts-and-all miniseries about the Kennedys began this month in Toronto, the first details about the eight-hour History Channel project are beginning to emerge.
The miniseries, starring Katie Holmes as a dead-ringer for Jackie Kennedy and Greg Kinnear as JFK, will cover the period from World War II to Bobby Kennedy's assassination in 1968.
"The Kennedys" is being produced by the creator of "24," Joel Surnow, who is well-known for his conservative political views, a rarity in Hollywood.
But the History Channel says the miniseries, set to air early next year, will be played as a straight drama, focusing mainly on the relationships among Joe Kennedy Sr. (the father), Jack, Jackie and Bobby.
Greg Kinnear stars as John F. Kennedy and Katie Holmes as Jackie in miniseries.
Screenwriter Stephen Kronish has based the story on news accounts from the era and work of such authors as Robert Dallek ("An Unfinished Life"), Doris Kearns Goodwin ("The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys"), Seymour Hersh ("The Dark Side of Camelot") and Evan Thomas ("Robert Kennedy: His Life").
Steven Gillon, author of "The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After," has been hired by the network to vet the scripts for historical accuracy, a spokesman said.
The series opens on Election Night 1960, but uses flashbacks to tell the story of how Joe Sr. groomed his sons as political powerhouses after Joe Jr. was killed during WWII.
Barry Pepper plays Bobby Kennedy in the series and Tom Wilkinson is Joe Sr.
Wilkinson's real-life wife, Diana Hardcastle, has been cast to play Rose Kennedy, the mother of Jack and Bobby.
The bulk of the action in "The Kennedys" will take place in the 1960s -- including the civil rights struggles in the South, the disastrous Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the brothers' assassinations.
Familiar Kennedy clan moments get a nod too, including an as-yet-uncast Marilyn Monroe doing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President," said a spokesman.
All the filming is set to be done in Toronto, where replicas of White House interiors and the Hyannis Port, Mass. compound where the Kennedys had their family home, have been built, officials said.
The miniseries is a first for the History Channel, which wants to begin doing its own versions of scripted dramas along the lines of HBO's "John Adams" and "Band of Brothers."