History channel's Kennedy miniseries has been cast

IDOLETTES: The top 10 finalists of
IDOLETTES: The top 10 finalists of "American Idol" will go on tour but will have to settle for performing at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Va., instead of downtown at Verizon Center. (Prnewsfoto/live Nation)
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By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, April 29, 2010

History channel has finally cast its controversial eight-hour Kennedy miniseries.

Greg Kinnear will play President John F. Kennedy; Katie Holmes has been cast as first lady Jacqueline Kennedy; Barry Pepper is portraying Attorney General Robert Kennedy; and Tom Wilkinson has been cast as family patriarch Joe Kennedy Sr.

The basic cable network caused a storm back in December when it announced its first stab at a scripted miniseries, mostly because the Kennedy project hails from Joel Surnow -- an outspoken conservative who hobnobs with Rush Limbaugh, blah, blah, blah. You may know Surnow as the creator of the Fox series "24," which made headlines a while back for all those creative torture scenes. The miniseries's screenwriter, Stephen Kronish, says he's a liberal Democrat.

When the project came to light, a variety of historians who'd read an early version of the script reacted with varying degrees of knicker-knottedness, and a petition was making the rounds for people to sign, vowing not to watch the "right-wing character assassination masquerading as 'history.' " The critics said the script contained factual errors -- and, of course, that scene in which the president tells his brother Bobby that if he doesn't have sex with unfamiliar women "every couple of days I get migraines."

In Wednesday's casting announcement, History -- the network of "Pawn Stars," "UFO Hunters," "Ax Men" and "Ice Road Truckers" -- said Kronish's screenplay "is currently being annotated and vetted by History's resident historians." With a straight face.

Idolettes on tour

Consider yourselves warned: Tim Urban and His Swoop will be entering the D.C. area, along with this year's other Top 10 Idolettes, on July 23, for the American Idol Live! tour.

But instead of taking the stage at the 20,000-seat downtown Verizon Center -- the tour's traditional Washington venue -- the Idolettes will instead perform in Bristow, Va., at the 25,000-capacity Jiffy Lube Live (formerly Nissan Pavilion).

Blame Live Nation for the trek, mosquitoes, weather and other potential annoyances of an outdoor venue. Not only is the Beverly Hills-based live-entertainment company promoting the tour, it just so happens to own Jiffy Lube Live.

For those who have already forgotten about this year's relatively limp crop of Idolettes, the tour will include Didi Benami, Andrew Garcia, Katie Stevens, Crystal Bowersox, Lee DeWyze, Casey James, Aaron Kelly, Michael Lynche, Siobhan Magnus and, of course, Turban.

Though the "Idol" tour has had its ups and downs over the years box office-wise, collectively, American Idol Live! clocks in at No. 28 on the Pollstar list of All Time Top 50 Concert Tours of the Decade. The American Idol tour has sold 3 million tickets and grossed around $157 million since it started in 2002. While impressive, it is ranked behind the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which ranks No. 20.

Idol tour tickets go on sale May 15.

Gervais's second Globes

NBC and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association made a liar of Ricky Gervais Wednesday when they announced he was returning to host the HFPA's "Golden Globe Awards" a second time.

Gervais's first time helming the Globes in January was one of the livelier trophy-show hosting gigs. ("I like a drink as much as the next man -- unless the next man is Mel Gibson," Gervais said by way of introducing presenter Gibson.)

Usually comics who host trophy shows at which they nick the Hollywood audience in the hall are not asked back. Ask Jon Stewart. Or David Letterman. Chris Rock, maybe.

Gervais told reporters days before hosting the Globes, "I don't really care what happens -- they're not really going to invite me back."

But that telecast climbed in the ratings by about 2 million viewers compared with the previous year's, hitting 17 million people, though it was unclear whether Gervais deserved credit, or the decision to air the show live on the West Coast for the first time on NBC, or the fact that box-office behemoth "Avatar" was among the nominees.

On Wednesday morning, Gervais told Ryan Seacrest, on Seacrest's nationally syndicated radio show, that he agreed to take the gig a second year because the HFPA is "such an odd little bunch of people, and I can't say no to them. . . . I feel like I'm doing charity work when I'm in a room with those people. . . . See, they're not like you -- they're not tall, and sophisticated," he told Seacrest, who's short and unsophisticated, despite his bespoke suits.

"Most of them aren't symmetrical," Gervais continued. "So when they look up from their little cardboard box and say, 'Will you host our award show?' I say, 'Sure.' "

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