Joel Surnow is swapping “real time” political intrigue for historical realism. The “24″ co-creator is executive producing “The Kennedys,” an eight-hour miniseries about one of America’s most iconic political families, for the History Channel. Unlike “24,” however, “The Kennedys” will be as historically accurate as possible and not feature any gimmickry.
“We’re not trying to be too clever about it,” said Surnow, who developed the project with Muse Entertainment for the Network. “We’re just telling the story on an episode by episode basis.”
Surnow says he and series writer Steve Kronish were most interested in cobbling together a dynastic story about family ambition. “That some of the most important events of the 20th century, such as the Bay of Pigs or the civil rights movement, is in the background, is almost besides the point,” he said. Focusing on the idea of a father living out his ambitions through his sons (”primarily Jack and Bobby, though Teddy was in the mix”), the series — which Surnow likens more to a season of the “Sopranos” than a traditional miniseries — will take place between the years of 1960 and 1968, but with plenty of flashbacks, such as Joe Sr. being rejected by a Harvard club.
He's not a partisan hack at all. He simply makes the case that the Kennedys are just like the Sopranos, who made sure to whack as many people after they ate their cannolis and espresso as possible.
He also decries anyone who may try to tie his conservative politics into the project. “My politics have never guided my interest in stories and movies,” he said. “I completely understand where critics are coming from, because of my creating the ‘1/2 Hour News Hour’ show for Fox News and the issue over torture on ‘24.’ But it’s honestly not going to have much play in terms of where this story comes out. Steve Kronish is politically different from me, and at the end of the day, we’re telling a story about a family. So it’s not about the politics.” (Fox News is owned by News Corp, as is the Wall Street Journal.)