Rob Lowe, who plays America's ill-fated 35th president in the National Geographic Channel's "Killing Kennedy," hopes the new film will help inform young viewers who might have only a sketchy awareness of the horrific tragedy that 50 years ago sent a nation into shock.
"It was such a psychic trauma to us that I don't really think anybody can ever have the experience that we had with this loss," he said during a media conference to promote the film. "One of the things that drew me to doing this was to reintroduce these generations to what this meant to this country. I don't know if 'forgotten' is really the right word, but that visceral ownership of that moment has not been passed on to the newer generations."
This month, viewers young and old will have a chance to reconnect with the events of Nov. 22, 1963. "Killing Kennedy" is one of many television projects commemorating the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination in Dallas. The programming deluge includes dramatizations, prime-time specials and documentaries designed to appease everyone from history buffs to conspiracy theorists.
"Killing Kennedy," based on the best-selling book by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard, begins at the dawn of JFK's abbreviated term in the White House and follows the collision course taken by Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald (Will Rothhaar), the man accused of gunning down the popular president. Ginnifer Goodwin stars as Jacqueline Kennedy, and Michelle Trachtenberg plays Marina Oswald.
Lowe believes the parallel tracking of the two men makes for an intriguing narrative device.
"They couldn't be more disparate. They couldn't be more different," he says. "You can't imagine that they would ever even meet, let alone affect each other's lives the way they did. ... It makes a story that we all know, I think, unbelievably compelling."
Here are some of the other notable Kennedy-themed projects:
"JFK: The Final Hours" (8 p.m. Friday, National Geographic) -- Bill Paxton narrates a documentary that takes "in-depth and birds-eye views" of the final day of Kennedy's life through firsthand accounts.
"Fox News Reporting: 50 Years of Questions: The JFK Assassination" (9 p.m. Saturday, Fox News Channel) -- Bill Hemmer hosts a special that delves into the controversy surrounding the FBI investigation of Kennedy's death, the autopsy report and the Warren Commission's findings.
"American Experience: JFK" (9 p.m. Nov. 11 and Nov. 12, PBS) -- A four-hour portrait of the enigmatic president, his accomplishments and unfulfilled promise. Kennedy family members and historians are among those interviewed.
"Cold Case JFK" (9 p.m. Nov. 13, PBS) -- A NOVA special that recalls the dark rumors and conspiracy theories surrounding Kennedy's assassination and poses the question: Could modern investigators do better?
"JFK: One PM Central Standard Time" (10 p.m. Nov. 13, PBS) -- The story of two men forever linked in history -- Kennedy and CBS anchor Walter Cronkite, who delivered the tragic news to millions of TV viewers. George Clooney narrates.
"As It Happened: John F. Kennedy 50 Years" (9 p.m. Nov. 16, CBS) -- Bob Schieffer recalls the fear and tension in Dallas. Schieffer was a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the day of the assassination.
"Letters to Jackie: Remembering President Kennedy" (9 p.m. Nov. 17, TLC) -- A film that gives life to some of the more than 800,000 condolence letters sent to the White House after Kennedy's death. Lending their voices to the project are 20 celebrities, including Anne Hathaway, Mark Ruffalo, Octavia Spencer and Channing Tatum.
"The Day Kennedy Died" (9 p.m. Nov. 17, Smithsonian Channel) -- A retrospective narrated by Kevin Spacey that offers interviews with eyewitnesses to the crime.
"Frontline: Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?" (10 p.m. Nov. 19, PBS) -- This investigative documentary attempts to penetrate the enigmatic man accused of assassinating JFK.
"JFK: The Lost Tapes" (7 p.m. Nov. 21, Discovery Channel) -- A special that relies on newly released audio recordings from Air Force One and digitally remastered audio from the Dallas Police Department to tell the behind-the-scenes story of the Kennedy assassination.
"JFK Assassination: The Definitive Guide" (8 p.m. Nov. 22, History Channel) -- A special that examines the various conspiracy theories and looks at findings from some of the top JFK assassination experts.
"Tom Brokaw Special: Where Were You?" (9 p.m. Nov. 22, NBC) -- The veteran newsman talks with a wide range of people about how Kennedy's death affected their lives.
"Lee Harvey Oswald: 48 Hours to Live" (10 p.m. Nov. 22, History Channel) -- A minute-to-minute account of the intense final two days of Oswald's life, leading to the infamous shot fired by Jack Ruby.
When: 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: National Geographic Channel