Archive | JFK Jr. RSS feed for this section

Remembering JFK

22 Nov

acsjfk383_14_11f

“We must use time as a tool, not a crutch.” — JFK

NOVEMBER 22

Today marks 48 years since President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

It is a time when all Americans (even those who were not yet born in 1963) stop to reflect on what our country lost that day for we lost so much more than more than just a man — and we ponder what role that tragic event played in shaping the world we now find ourselves living in.

While it is important that we pause to remember the past, and to ask these questions about America’s future (he would want us to), let’s not allow ourselves to forget the man Jack Kennedy was. Because it seems that far too often, we focus our attention on his death and the many questions that still remain unanswered. Shouldn’t we instead remember his life?

Sitting atop the perch where Abraham Zapruder took film of the assassination, a young boy tries to make sense of it all. Dealey Plaza, Dallas, TX. June 1, 2008

Sitting atop the perch where Abraham Zapruder shot his film of the assassination, a young boy tries to make sense of it all. Dealey Plaza, Dallas, TX. June 1, 2008

Since this somber anniversary happens to fall around Thanksgiving, it just doesn’t seem appropriate somehow to be mournful. Rather, let us give thanks for all of the good things he brought to this world as a catalyst for change. Let us recall the way he inspired people around the globe; the hope and optimism he brought to the presidency. Let’s celebrate his vision, his strength, his courage, his razor-sharp mind, his gracecharm, and of course, that delightful, sometimes wicked wit.

This would be a perfect time to reach for one of your favorite books on the shelf and immerse yourself in some of his words. Listen to some of his best speeches. Because these things are the legacy he left us. His words will live in history forever and cannot be erased.

A single red rose on the Grassy Knoll in front of the former Texas School Book Depository (now the 6th Floor Museum).

A single red rose, left by an unknown admirer on the Grassy Knoll in front of the former Texas School Book Depository (now the 6th Floor Museum).

Naturally, we all have our own favorite books and speeches of JFK’s; I’ve certainly got a long list of works I find deeply moving and inspiring, but I’ll refrain from making any recommendations here because I feel that how each of us remembers him today should be a strictly personal choice.

But there is one little tidbit I want to share:

On November 19, 1963, just three days before his death, President Kennedy wrote this message for the re-dedication ceremonies of the national cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania:

“The goals of liberty and freedom, the obligations of keeping ours a government of and for the people are never-ending.”

Just one sentence, but this says it all. Written nearly a half century ago, his words serve to remind us all that there is still so much work to do. Lest we forget.

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

 President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

May 29, 1917- November 22, 1963

Notes and flowers left for President Kennedy on the Grassy Knoll Fence. Dallas, June 2008

Notes and flowers left for President Kennedy on the Grassy Knoll Fence. Dallas, June 2008

 PHOTO GALLERY

Text and images copyright 2008-2011, New Frontier. All rights reserved.

 

“The Kennedys” Miniseries Review

4 Apr

Television review: ‘The Kennedys’

Despite several strong lead performances, it turns out that even an eight-part miniseries can’t do justice to the story of one of the country’s most dynamic, if flawed, political families.

April 01, 2011|By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Television Critic

 

The main problem with “The Kennedys,” the rumor-plagued, eight-part series that was rejected by the History Channel, which had commissioned it, before landing at ReelzChannel, is not one of politics or even accuracy but of scope. It is impossible to tell the story of this iconic family even in eight parts, even by limiting the timeline, as creators Stephen Kronish and Joel Surnow have done, to the years between the beginnings of World War II and the assassination of Robert Kennedy. There is too much back story, too many important events, and too many Kennedys.

Kronish addresses the last of these problems by simply cutting the family in half. “The Kennedys” that the title refers to are Joe Sr. (Tom Wilkinson), Rose (Diana Hardcastle ), John F. (Greg Kinnear) and his wife, Jacqueline (Katie Holmes), Bobby (Barry Pepper) and his wife, Ethel (Kristin Booth). Fourth daughter Patricia is seen briefly in one of the later episodes, married to Peter Lawford and playing hostess to one of his Marilyn Monroe-studded soirees, while Rosemary, the victim of an early lobotomy, appears briefly in flashback. But Kathleen (who died in an airplane crash in 1948); Eunice, who founded the Special Olympics and was married to Kennedy advisor Sargent Shriver; Jean, who eventually became U.S. ambassador to Ireland; and Edward (Teddy), the longtime Massachusetts senator and onetime presidential candidate, are not only not present, they are never even mentioned.

Which is much more troubling than the various scenes of infidelity (Joe’s and Jack’s), election “rigging” (Joe’s), mob connections (Joe’s) and drug use (Jack’s and Jackie’s) that have apparently raised the blood pressure of Kennedy historians, History Channel execs and various industry watchers for reasons that, while watching the actual episodes, is inexplicable. There is nothing in “The Kennedys” that hasn’t appeared before in reputable books, films and articles in the Kennedy-obsessed “Vanity Fair.”

An argument could be made that a channel called “History” might want to avoid docudramas, which rely on artistic interpretation, but if it was the intention of producer Surnow, a political conservative, to sully the Kennedy name, he certainly went about it in a strange manner. Jack and Bobby emerge splendid, smart and heroic despite their flaws, and even Joe, though portrayed as a ruthlessly ambitious father and truly awful husband, appears in the end guilty of little more than old-time campaign tactics and a once-oppressed immigrant’s dream of joining the ruling class.

Casting went a long way toward balancing the script’s inclusion of the unsavory side of being a Kennedy. Wilkinson can do just about anything at this point in his career, and he illuminates equally Joe’s hubris and desperate fear of failure, while, with his perpetually worried eyes, Kinnear plays a JFK in constant pain — from his back, from his father’s expectations, from his own infidelities. Don Draper certainly never felt this guilty about getting a little on the side.

The revelation of “The Kennedys” is Pepper, most recently seen as the snaggletoothed villain in “True Grit,” who delivers an Emmy-deserving performance, slowly building a Bobby who becomes the family’s, and the Kennedy administration’s, spine of steel, aware of the choices and sacrifices he is making and prepared to make them every time. As attorney general, Bobby is the president’s hammer even as he attempts to be his conscience.

The scenes among these three men alone are worth trying to find out if you get ReelzChannel. Unfortunately, they are too often being moved through historical events as if they were chess pieces and are surrounded by a supporting cast not up to their level. Holmes is pretty as Jackie, but her emotions are confined to happy (“I love him”) and sad (“He cheats on me”), with absolutely no nuance and only the occasional flash of spirit, intellect and inner strength that made Jacqueline Kennedy an icon in her own right. As Ethel, Booth is almost unbearably perky in early episodes, although she mellows as the series unfolds; the scenes between Bobby and Ethel are far more poignant and powerful than those between Jackie and Jack. Hardcastle (married to Wilkinson) can’t do much with a Rose who spends most of the series saying her rosary and making pronouncements about God’s will in a broad Eastern accent — it isn’t until the final episode that mention is made of the crucial role Rose played in the political careers of her sons.

But she is just another victim of the genre’s biggest danger. In attempting to be both sprawling and intimate, “The Kennedys” winds up in a narrative no-man’s land. So the tensions of Bobby taking on organized crime, the riots in Mississippi, the Cuban missile crisis and the strained relationship of the brothers with J. Edgar Hoover and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson are treated with the same time constraints and dramatic emphasis as Joe’s endless “recovery” from his stroke and Jackie’s realization that being a first lady is difficult.

While this “greatest-hits” pace does take the potential sting from the more salacious details — Jack’s infidelities are few and far between, Frank Sinatra is blamed for any mob-related fallout, the pep-me-up shots Jack and Jackie receive do little more than pep them up — it also buries the fine performances of its leading men, who too often seem to be simply marching toward their characters’ inevitable doom.

mary.mcnamara@latimes.com

“The Kennedys” Miniseries Dropped by History Channel; picked up by Reelz

2 Feb

From The Hollywood Reporter:

The controversial miniseries about the Kennedy family will have its world television premiere on April 3.

After a three-week journey, The Kennedys has found a home.

The controversial miniseries will world premiere on April 3 on the ReelzChannel, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Producers of the ambitious project from 24 executive producer Joel Surnow and writer Stephen Kronish have struck a deal with the independent, family-owned cable network to air the 8-part miniseires, which was abruptly yanked from the History channel on January 7 amid pressure from the Kennedys over its depiction of the political family. At the time, History owner A&E Television Networks told THR that “after viewing the final product in its totality, we have concluded this dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand.”

But it is certainly a fit for ReelzChannel, a 4-year old independent cable channel owned by Minnesota-based Hubbard Communications that is available in 60 million homes nationwide on services including DirecTV, Dish Network, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Comcast and Charter Communications.

Sources say the company stepped up with a big financial commitment for the lavish $30 million miniseries starring Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes and produced by Asylum Entertainment and Muse Entertainment.

Gallup Poll: Kennedy Still Highest-Rated Modern President

8 Dec

 

85% Says It All

 

According to a new Gallup Poll, President John F. Kennedy continues to earn the highest retrospective job approval rating from Americans, now 85%.

Ronald Reagan ranks second, with 74%. While these presidents’ ratings are largely unchanged from 2006, Bill Clinton’s rating has improved, putting him in third place, while Jimmy Carter, at 52%, has dropped from third to sixth. Richard Nixon remains the lowest rated.

The poll was limited to approval ratings for American presidents who have served in the past 50 years.

Approval of How Past Presidents Handled Their Job -- Recent Trend (2006, 2010)

The Nov. 19-21 Gallup poll asked Americans to say, based on what they know or remember about the nine most recent former presidents, whether they approve or disapprove of how each handled his job in office.

Kennedy has consistently ranked No. 1 in this Gallup measure initiated in 1990.

 

 

Read full story here: Kennedy Still Highest-Rated Modern President, Nixon Lowest.

RFK Jr. Divorces Wife of 16 Years

13 Jul
The Kennedys at an NRDC Event, Apr. 1, 2008

 

July 13, 2010

Bobby Kennedy Jr. sues wife for divorce

Shawn Cohen and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon
spcohen@lohud.com

WHITE PLAINS — Robert F. Kennedy Jr. filed to divorce his wife of 16 years just three days before Mary Kennedy was charged with drunken driving, according to records obtained by The Journal News.

The May 12 divorce filing also came a day before Bedford police responded to the Kennedy home for a “domestic incident” during which her husband alleged she was intoxicated, records show.

It was among several police visits to the Bedford estate in recent years, according to police incident reports.

Robert Kennedy, a prominent environmentalist at Pace University School of Law in White Plains, declined to comment this week.

“I’m not going to talk to you about my personal life,” he said Monday.

He is the son of former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in California in 1968 during his run for president.

According to records on file with the Westchester County Clerk’s Office, the Kennedy family scion filed the papers on May 12.

On May 10, two days before the filing, Mary Kennedy called 911 herself, police said. Officers responding to the house reported she was “visibly intoxicated” and had “great difficulty collecting her thoughts and articulating her reasons for calling.” She told police her husband was “verbally abusive to herself and her children.”

On May 13, officers were summoned to the South Bedford Road home at 9:16 p.m. and filed a state domestic incident report before leaving.

On May 15, Mary Kennedy was stopped outside St. Patrick’s School on Greenwich Road near the couple’s home and charged with driving while intoxicated. Police said she had a blood-alcohol level of 0.11 percent at the time of her arrest. The legal limit is 0.08 percent.

She was ordered to undergo evaluation for potential alcohol abuse and is due in Town Court on July 22.

Her lawyer in that case also declined comment on the divorce proceeding.

Details on the divorce filing, including grounds, were unavailable. New York state does not have a “no fault” divorce law, though it will go into effect in September.

The couple has four children.

This would be Kennedy’s second divorce. He was married to Emily Ruth Black. They divorced in 1994, a month before he married his current wife.

Op-Ed: Planned History Channel Miniseries “The Kennedys” Inaccurate; Distorted

26 Feb

 

The Kennedy Brothers

ISN’T ASSASSINATION ENOUGH?

LET THE KENNEDYS REST IN PEACE

Dear Friends —
 
I am taking time today to write and express my extreme displeasure with The History Channel’s planned miniseries The Kennedys. After reviewing portions of the draft script, I was floored by the sheer number of inaccuracies, distortions and omissions of essential facts in this docu-drama.
 
This is not what future generations should be learning about the presidency of John F. Kennedy.
 
As we reach the 50th anniversary of JFK’s inauguration this year, presenting an epic miniseries which is not only grossly inaccurate but clearly designed to assassinate the character of a president who gave his life for this country, is wholly unacceptable to me. 
 
My daily concern as a historian, author and museum curator is the quality of education we are giving our children in the field of history. As a radio/print journalist, Kennedy scholar, and founder of several websites devoted to the Kennedy family legacy, I have devoted 25 years of my life to providing accurate information to anyone who is interested in learning about our nation’s 35th president and his family.
 
So when I see a script like The Kennedys, proposed to air on (of all places) The History Channel, I shudder to think of the potential and far-reaching consequences.
 
When fiction is presented as fact, that is entertainment. It is not history and has no place on The History Channel.
 
I am also highly offended that the same History Channel which brought us such outstanding documentaries as JFK: A Presidency Revealed and Turner’s The Men Who Killed Kennedy would ever stoop this low, becoming little more than a mouthpiece for right-wing rumormongering and propaganda the likes of which we would expect from Fox News.
 
Many of my fellow historians and researchers have joined together to let the History Channel know how we feel. We must try and stop this miniseries from being produced as currently written.
 
Please ask The History Channel to allow JFK’s living decendants, friends and key advisors – as well as credible historians and researchers – to consult on production of The Kennedys miniseries. Then, and only then, can we rest assured that this presentation on the Kennedy family is truly “fair and balanced.” 
 
Please take a few minutes to learn more about The Kennedys miniseries here:

History channel draws flak for planned JFK miniseries

Pittsburgh Post Gazette – Dave Itzkoff – ‎Feb 19, 2010‎

 Also please visit the website http://StopKennedySmears.com to view a short film directed by Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films which features interviews with Ted Sorensen, David Talbot, Nigel Hamilton, Rick Perlstein, David Nasaw and other Kennedy historians expressing their shock and outrage at this deeply-flawed production. You can view some excerpts of the script and decide for yourself is this is what you want your grandchildren to know about President Kennedy and his family. 

If Jack Kennedy were alive today, he’d surely sue them for defamation of character and win. But since he’s sadly not here to defend himself, looks like it’s going to be up to those of us who still care to speak up before it’s too late. 

If you agree, I hope you will add your name to the petition at StopKennedySmears.com and tell the History Channel to present real history. 

Thank You,
 
 
New Frontier
Founding Editor
 

Rep. Kennedy Bows Out, Spelling End to Family Era

12 Feb

Kennedy’s Announcement a Stunner

 

From The Boston Globe

Feb. 12, 2010

WASHINGTON – US Representative Patrick Kennedy has decided not to seek reelection, capping a dramatic year for the Kennedy family and probably leaving it without a member in Washington for the first time in more than six decades.

Kennedy made the decision based on “some personal struggles,’’ including the death in August of his father, Edward M. Kennedy, according to a Democratic official briefed on the decision. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because Patrick Kennedy has not yet made a formal announcement.

That announcement is expected to come Sunday, when a TV advertisement taped by Kennedy is set to air in Rhode Island. In that tape, circulated by the media last night, Kennedy says his “life is taking a new direction, and I will not be a candidate for reelection this year.’’

In the two-minute ad, with soft music playing in the background, he says he wants to continue working to help those with depression, addiction, autism, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“My father taught me that politics at its very core was about serving others,’’ Kennedy says in the video, as black-and-white images of him and his father flash across the screen. “For two decades I’ve been humbled and honored to represent the people of our state.’’

Unless another Kennedy decides to run for Congress and wins, Patrick Kennedy’s decision will mean that a Kennedy family member, or close associate, will not be serving in Congress next year for the first time since 1947. The Kennedys last month also saw the seat long held by the late senator go to Republican Scott Brown. Patrick Kennedy called Brown’s candidacy “a joke.’’

Kennedy, 42, has held the seat – one of two congressional seats in Rhode Island – for the past 16 years. Several close to Kennedy said last night that he had been mulling over the decision for as long as a year.

“This is something he’s been thinking about for a while,’’ said an official familiar with Kennedy’s thinking. “He and I talked about it about 10 months ago.’’

But he has also struggled with depression and drug addiction, and has made advocating for mental health treatment a political cause. He checked himself into an addiction treatment center last year because he said he was showing signs of a relapse.

In 2006, after he pleaded guilty to a charge of driving under the influence of prescription drugs relating to an early-morning car crash outside the Capitol, he checked himself into the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

In his taped message, Kennedy thanked voters for their support, through his good times and bad.

“When I made missteps or suffered setbacks, you responded not with contempt, but compassion,’’ he said. “Thank you for all the times you lifted me up, pushed me forward.’’

Rhode Island’s voters have tended to forgive Kennedy, who was among the speakers at his father’s funeral last year, telling tales of both the struggles he had as a boy with asthma and how much he looked up to his father.

He has won reelection comfortably, but was being challenged this year by state Representative John J. Loughlin II, a Republican of Tiverton.

Kennedy has been seen as vulnerable, particularly after 62 percent of voters statewide gave the eight-term congressman an unfavorable job rating in a poll released last week by WPRI-TV (Channel 12). Just 35 percent of respondents in Kennedy’s district said they would vote to reelect him.

Kennedy was also a flashpoint recently when he clashed with Rhode Island Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, who denied him Communion over his support for abortion rights. Kennedy was supporting a health care overhaul with a measure that provided for abortion rights, and criticized the church for opposing the legislation.

Word of Kennedy’s decision spread through the political world last night.

Raymond L. Flynn, former mayor of Boston, said he felt Kennedy made the right choice in passing on a reelection bid, since Democrats have had a “bad year’’ and the congressman is still reeling from the loss of his father.

“He feels terrible about the loss of his father, and to put himself through a difficult campaign is probably not in his best health interest,’’ Flynn said.

He said Rhode Island politicians of all stripes could make a serious run for Kennedy’s seat.

Scott Ferson, Democratic consultant and a former press secretary for Senator Kennedy, said the congressman views public service “like his father would.’’

That means “you don’t have to be in elective office to do the things you care about,’’ Ferson said. “It’s more expansive than that, and [Congressman Kennedy] obviously lost his best friend down there last year in Washington.’’

George Nee, president of the Rhode Island AFL-CIO, said he was shocked at the news. “It’s coming as a complete surprise,’’ Nee said.

Kennedy was first elected to a political office in 1988, when he won a seat in the Rhode Island State House at the age of 21.

Six years later, the boyish redhead was elected to the US House of Representatives and followed the advice of his father to be a workhorse, not a show horse, on Capitol Hill. He impressed colleagues by learning the names of the other 434 members of the House – an unusual feat in a chamber where few lawmakers, let alone freshmen members, can identify every one of their colleagues.

John Walsh, chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, said he had “no idea’’ why Kennedy chose not to seek reelection, adding that politics is a “tough business’’ that takes a toll on elected officials and their families.

“I think the people of Rhode Island have been well represented by the congressman and his voice will be missed on the national stage,’’ Walsh said.

 

Travis Andersen of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Stewart Bishop contributed to this report.