History, Muse ready Kennedys

History Television and Muse Entertainment are delving into the story of America’s most prominent family with the $25 million miniseries The Kennedys, set to begin filming in Toronto on June 7.

Greg Kinnear

A coproduction with AETN’s History Channel in the U.S., the eight-part mini will star Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine) as John F. Kennedy and Katie Holmes (Batman Begins) as wife Jacqueline Kennedy and Barry Pepper (Flags of our Fathers) as brother Bobby.

Tom Wilkinson (In the Bedroom) will play Joe Kennedy Sr., while Ken Welsh (The Day After Tomorrow) plays J. Edgar Hoover. The third brother, the recently deceased Ted Kennedy, has not yet been cast.

Katie Holmes

The project marks History’s first foray into original scripted content, a break from its usual documentaries and docu-dramas.

‘It’s was a no-brainer [to get involved],’ Canwest SVP of drama and factual content Christine Shipton tells Playback Daily, adding that the project snowballed after exec producer Michael Prupas of Muse brought Kennedys to the broadcaster early last year. The Kennedys is the latest in a string of big projects that have landed at the Montreal shop, following its forthcoming Pillars of the Earth and Ben Hur.

For his part, Prupas got involved in development at the behest of Joel Surnow (24), with whom he collaborated on the TNT pilot Night and Day, which shot in New Mexico in 2008.

‘The pilot did not succeed, but we decided that we liked each other and wanted to develop something else,’ Prupas recalls. He says Surnow was comfortable to shoot the mini in Canada, having worked here previously on the series La Femme Nikita.

Exec producers on Kennedys include Prupas, Surnow and his 24 co-creator Stephen Kronish, alongside Jon Cassar (24, Criminal Minds), who is also tapped to direct.

The producers are in the process of casting the remaining roles, according to Prupas, who says there will be a ‘significant’ number of Canadian actors involved.

The series will debut in the spring/summer of 2011.