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The Girl Next Door

Revived 'Kennedys' a riveting, brutally honest epic

New York Post
By Linda Stasi

POIGNANT SCENE: Jackie Kennedy (Katie Holmes) bids farewell to her slain husband

"The Kennedys" is the best miniseries you almost weren't allowed to see.And considering the size of the cable network ReelzChannel's usual audience, chances are you may still not see it.

But the miniseries -- starring Greg Kinnear as JFK, Barry Pepper as Bobby, Katie Holmes as Jacqueline and Tom Wilkinson as Joseph Sr. -- is without a doubt one of the best, most riveting, historically accurate dramas about a time and place in American history that has ever been done for TV.

The eight-hour, $25 million project -- produced by Joel Surnow, the guy who brought you "24" -- was originally commissioned by the History Channel and then killed off by ABC, which owns much of the cable channel, after it was completed.

ReelzChannel picked it up at a fire-sale price. Why? There are more conspiracy theories floating around about that than the Kennedy assassination itself.

After watching it, I no longer believe the one about Caroline Kennedy killing it off. Despite Surnow having Hollywood's most robust right-wing credentials, the movie -- which is brutally honest about power-mad old Joe and his anti-Semitic, Hitler-apologist stance -- is pretty much the true story.

The series opens on Election Day -- and immediately establishes the idea that the old man was in total control.

After Election Day in 1960, we're thrown back in time to the days before the war, when Joe Jr. was Pop's real pride.

Joe, who was supposed to be the family war hero, is jealous of the medals that JFK received for bravery (but not stupidity) during the famous sinking of his PT boat in the Pacific.

Joe even confronts John, home on leave, saying: "I didn't know they gave out medals for falling asleep at the wheel. Next time you screw up, maybe they'll give you the Medal of Honor."

After Joe Jr. is killed, Old Joe immediately switches his focus to his next-oldest son, John, who was forced, reluctantly and very awkwardly, into politics, according to the movie.

There are things that will shock you -- such as how Old Joe demanded that JFK make Bobby attorney general and how both brothers were totally against it but neither had the guts to stand up to Pop.

We see old bastard Joe kissing his sexy secretary in front of Rose (Diana Hardcastle), and then a resigned Rose asking the young woman if she needs a sweater, since it's so chilly.

Yes, Marilyn's here, and so is the Kennedy connection to her mysterious death. So is Sinatra and the mobster Sam Giancana, who essentially delivered Chicago for JFK in the 1960 election and to whom the old man -- through Sinatra -- owed a favor.

So what about Katie Holmes as the elegant Jackie?

It takes a while for Holmes to get her Jackie on, but once it's on, you won't believe you aren't watching film clips of the first lady.