This television mini-series was made and first broadcast about three years after its source book "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga" by Doris Kearns Goodwin had been first published in 1987.
This mini-series aired when originally broadcast was aired over three nights and such runs in three parts or episodes.
This TV mini-series was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards including Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television and Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television for Annette O'Toole and of the three nominations won one Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television for Charles Durning.
This TV mini-series was nominated for Eight Emmy Awards including Outstanding Miniseries but won just the one Emmy for Outstanding Costume Design for a Miniseries or a Special for Costume Designer Shelley Komarov for Part I.
The production won the Artios Award for Best Casting for a TV Miniseries for Casting Director Pam Dixon awarded by the Casting Society of America.
The pre-production of this mini-series was reportedly in development for around six years.
The production reportedly utilized around two thousand extras and background artists.
Source author Doris Kearns Goodwin once said of this TV mini-series: "It's so strange seeing my words come to life--seeing this scene come to life as it actually happened."
Doris Kearns Goodwin, the author of the mini-series' source book "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys : An American Saga" (1987), had previously written the book "Lyndon Baines Johnson and the American Dream" (1977) about exactly a decade earlier.
Reportedly, for the film rights to her book "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga" (1987), source author Doris Kearns Goodwin received a US $500,000 advance with a production start guarantee of an additional US $250,000 upon the commencement of principal photography.
Ted Kennedy provided source author Doris Kearns Goodwin access to a collection of papers and materials including letters of Rose Kennedy and Joseph P. Kennedy discovered in the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum which had not undergone archival appraisal and starting to deteriorate. These had been received by the repository around the same time that Godowin had started researching JFK there.
Source writer Doris Kearns Goodwin said of interviewing Rose Kennedy for the production's source book "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga" (1987): "She was very lucid, especially about the past, and after a few contacts, she started asking me back herself. This is when the story started to develop its own momentum."
Television writer William Hanley was hired to write the tele-play for this television mini-series at the same time thatauthor Doris Kearns Goodwin was still writing this mini-series' source book "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga" (1987) and incrementally providing finished chapters to the production as they became completed.
Doris Kearns Goodwin was once a member of Democrat American President Lyndon Baines Johnson's staff at the White House where she acted as an assistant to LBJ who was the successor to Democrat U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
Source writer Doris Kearns Goodwin, apart from this TV mini-series' source book "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga" (1987), has also written such books about American politics as "Lyndon Baines Johnson and the American Dream" (1977); "No Ordinary Time: Franklin [Franklin D. Roosevelt] and Anna Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II" (1994); "Every Four Years: Presidential Campaign Coverage from 1896 to 2000" (2000); "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" (2005), which was filmed by Steven Spielberg as Lincoln (2012); and "The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism" (2013).
A 20th November 1988 article by Clarke Taylor published in the Los Angeles Times reported that this television mini-series "got a green light because the strike by the Writers Guild of America left the networks pressed for programming; the miniseries initially was fast-tracked for the network's fall schedule, probably to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy [John F. Kennedy] on Tuesday, but it's now tentatively scheduled for broadcast in February, 1989." In the end, the mini-series broadcast premiered a year later on 18th February 1990.
In the wake of allegations in 1987 over alleged plagiarism for her history book "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga" (1987), source author Doris Kearns Goodwin resigned from the board of the Pulitzer Prize judges board on 31st May 2002. Goodwin had been a member of the board since 1999. The resignation followed a probe since January 2002 of possible plagiarism in other books of hers. She acknowledged she had long before made cash payment to author Lynne McTaggart to settle a dispute over charges that Goodwin had plagiarized from her book, "Kathleen Kennedy".
This opening prologue of this minis-series states: "The following dramatization is based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's book 'The Fitzgeralds & the Kennedys'."
Madolyn Smith Osborne, portraying movie star Gloria Swanson, received a 'special appearance' credit.
One of a number of dramatic tele-movies and television mini-series made about the Kennedy Family of former Democrat American President John F. Kennedy and his wife former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. The titles include Kennedy (1983); Prince Jack (1984); Killing Kennedy (2013); The Missiles of October (1974); J.F.K.: Reckless Youth (1993); RFK (2002); The Kennedys (2011) and its sequel The Kennedys After Camelot (2017); A Woman Named Jackie (1991); Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (1981); Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (2000); Young Joe, the Forgotten Kennedy (1977); "The Kennedys of Massachusetts" (1990); Robert Kennedy and His Times (1985); Hoover vs. the Kennedys: The Second Civil War (1987); Onassis: The Richest Man in the World (1988); and Jackie, Ethel, Joan: The Women of Camelot (2001).
Actor Charles Durning', who plays John 'Honey Fitz' Fitzgerald in this TV mini-series, had previously portrayed 'The Governor' character in the movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982).
The mini-series was originally intended to be first broadcast in the 25th Anniversary year of the assassination of President Kennedy [John F. Kennedy] which was 1988 but in the end did not debut until 1990.
Then "98-year-old matriarch Rose Kennedy . . . was instrumental in enabling both the author [Doris Kearns Goodwin] and the producers to tell this latest version of the Kennedy legend" according to a 20th November 1988 article by Clarke Taylor published in the Los Angeles Times. It continued: "This, despite the fact that Doris Kearns Goodwin pulls few punches in chronicling the darker sides of Camelot."
The summary of this mini-series' source book, "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga" (1987), by source authoress Doris Kearns Goodwin on her personal website reads: "Acclaimed presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin's best-selling The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga explores the fascinating, pertinent history of two immigrant families, their rise to potent political dynasties, and the marriage that brought the two together to found the most powerful family in America. Drawing on unprecedented access to the family and its private papers, Goodwin takes readers from John Francis "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald [John Francis Fitzgerald]'s baptism in 1863 through his reign as mayor of Boston, to the inauguration of his grandson, John Fitzgerald Kennedy [John F. Kennedy], as President of the United States ninety-eight years later. Each character emerges unforgettable: the young, shrewdly political Rose Fitzgerald [Rose Kennedy]; her powerful, manipulative husband, Joseph P. Kennedy; and the "Golden Trio" of Kennedy children - Joe Jr. [Joseph P. Kennedy Jr.] , Kathleen [Kathleen 'Kick' Kennedy], and Jack [John F. Kennedy] - whose promise was eclipsed by the family's legacy of tragedy . . . Goodwin's The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys is at once the story of an era, of the immigrant experience, and - most of all - of two families, whose ambitions propelled them to unrivaled power and whose passions nearly destroyed them."
Source author Doris Kearns Goodwin also wrote the book "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" (2005) which was later filmed by Steven Spielberg as Lincoln (2012). In 1999, she was consulted by Spielberg as part of his research about a film he wanted to make about Abraham Lincoln. Goodwin revealed that she was working on a book, entitled "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln". Spielberg immediately expressed interest in using this book as the basis for his film, and Dreamworks Pictures finalized the film rights in 2001. The book itself was not published until 2005.