‘Hatfields & McCoys’ Was Rejected by HBO, Showtime, TNT, TBS, USA and FX Before History Said Yes to Project. And Which Hollywood Legend Was Once Set to Play the Kevin Costner Role

May 31, 2012  •  Post A Comment

The record-breaking "Hatfields & McCoys," which has been pulling huge audiences to the cable channel History, took 30 years to get to television, with the project so old that Burt Lancaster was once slated to star in the role now played by Kevin Costner, reports the New York Post. Lancaster died in 1994.

"It took me 30 years of knocking on every door,” said executive producer Leslie Greif, the CEO and founder of Thinkfactory Media. “They’d say, ‘We love you, but don’t mention “Hatfields” again.’"

Greif, who co-created and produced the series "Walker, Texas Ranger," said, "They all passed: HBO, Showtime, Starz, TNT, TBS, USA, FX," the story reports. "I had this thing set up four different times and pitched it to every [broadcast] network … and every new regime over 30 years."

He said networks passed it over for a variety of reasons, including the belief that no one wanted to watch Westerns.

“All I heard was, ‘No one wants Westerns.’ ‘Miniseries are over.’ ‘There’s no financial model.’ ‘It will never sell overseas.’ ‘It skews too old and too male.’ Meantime, we’re killing with adults 18 to 49 and with women viewers,” Greif said. “I started pitching this when I was young and skinny and miniseries like ‘Roots,’ ‘Shogun’ and ‘The Thorn Birds’ were a staple of TV. It’s fun to be validated in my belief that this is a timeless tale.”

The miniseries has been shattering viewership records for ad-supported cable, as previously reported.


  1. The suits will kill a good dream anytime they can.
    Good writing, familiar story that’s easy to relate to, good acting.
    No wonder no one wanted to pick it up.
    It doesn’t fit the mold for the young & hip.
    Thank you Mr. Greif for hanging in there.

  2. Many thanks to TV Week as well. I hadn’t heard about it until yesterday – here. I got the episodes put into my DVR just in time to not miss the pilot. You should post all new shows or new seasons of existing shows prior to them being on air. Too many shows disappear for long periods of time (like all the great ones on USA and others) that I never know if they were cancelled or not. Keep up the great work!

  3. I am SOOOO not the target TV demographic. I am Black, female, just barely 18-49 (lol) don’t play video games and not the main shopper in the household and I LOVED this program. Huge fan of the History Channel (love my Swamp People, Conspiracy and American Pickers!) The suits need a new model and Hollywood marketing gurus need to get a clue.

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