TV specials look back on the life and death of JFK

Posted 7:52am on Saturday, Nov. 02, 2013

There seem to be as many specials commemorating the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s death this month as there are conspiracy theories.

Here are some of the highlights:

JFK: The Smoking Gun (7 p.m. Sunday, REELZChannel): Australian police detective Colin McLaren, who worked some of his country’s most high-profile cases, concludes from modern ballistic and forensic evidence and witness statements that the bullet that struck Kennedy’s head came from an AR-15 rifle, accidentally fired by Secret Service Agent George Hickey.

JFK: The Final Hours (7 p.m. Friday, National Geographic Channel): This documentary, narrated by Fort Worth native Bill Paxton, takes in-depth and bird’s-eye views of the final day of Kennedy’s life through firsthand accounts and attempts to provide insight into his humanity.

Fox News Reporting: 50 Years of Questions: The JFK Assassination (8 p.m. Nov. 9, Fox News Channel): Host Bill Hemmer takes a look at the controversy surrounding the FBI investigation, the autopsy report and the Warren Commission’s findings. Guests include Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, author of Killing Kennedy, who shares his views on the assassination.

Killing Kennedy (7 p.m. Nov. 10, National Geographic Channel): Rob Lowe stars as President Kennedy in a film based on the bestselling book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. The film charts the highs and lows of two men whose lives would eventually intersect with two murders that stunned a nation. The cast also includes Ginnifer Goodwin as Jacqueline Kennedy and Michelle Trachtenberg as Marina Oswald.

Capturing Oswald (9 p.m. Nov. 12, Military Channel): Retired Dallas Police Department homicide detectives and officers provide a detailed account of the DPD investigation that had JFK’s alleged assassin in custody within 90 minutes of the shooting. Co-produced by Kate Griendling, granddaughter of Jim Leavelle, the detective handcuffed to Oswald when Jack Ruby shot him.

Cold Case JFK (8 p.m. Nov. 13, PBS): NOVA and a team of experts use sophisticated new technology to review the evidence. This includes testing the controversial single-bullet theory, with a team of firearms and ballistics experts using Doppler radar to study a reconstruction of the shooting.

Kennedy’s Suicide Bomber (7 p.m. Nov. 17, Smithsonian Channel): Rare manuscripts, court documents and eyewitnesses reveal the largely untold story of Richard Pavlick, who stalked and plotted to kill President-Elect Kennedy in Palm Beach, Fla., in December 1960.

The Day Kennedy Died (8 p.m. Nov. 17, Smithsonian Channel): This documentary, from acclaimed director Leslie Woodhead ( 9/11: Day That Changed the World) and narrated by Kevin Spacey, chronicles the tragic day — from the president and first lady’s morning in Fort Worth and their arrival in Dallas on Air Force One to the shocking moment itself and the aftermath of the assassination.

Dan Rather Reports (7 p.m. Nov. 18, AXS TV): The legendary journalist, who was the first to report the president’s death and also the first to describe the Zapruder film to his TV audience, discusses his recollections of the assassination.

JFK: The Lost Tapes (6 p.m. Nov. 21, Discovery Channel): Newly released government tapes from Air Force One, combined with digitally remastered audio from the Dallas police force and radio recordings of on-site reporters, offer an intimate account of everything that happened after the assassination.

Faces of November (10:45 p.m. Nov. 21, Turner Classic Movies): The last of documentary filmmaker Robert Drew’s films about Kennedy, this one focusing on the assassination, released in 1964. TCM opens the evening at 7 p.m. with Drew’s earlier JFK documentaries (1960’s Primary, 1961’s Adventures on the New Frontier and 1963’s Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment). Following Faces of November is Mel Stuart’s Oscar-nominated documentary Four Days in November (1964) and the 1963 movie PT 109, starring Cliff Robertson as Kennedy.

Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live (9 p.m. Nov. 22, History): A minute-by-minute account of the intense final two days of Oswald’s life: his attempt to flee, his capture by the police and the grueling interrogation by Dallas police detectives before he was shot by Jack Ruby.

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