In Dallas with 'Killing Kennedy' and star Will Rothhaar
Last month I had the opportunity to not only watch Nat Geo's new movie "Killing Kennedy" (Sun. Nov. 10 at 8:00 p.m), but watch it in the theater where suspected shooter Lee Harvely Oswald was arrested. To make it all thoroughly meta, I was watching along with Will Rothhar, who plays Lee Harvey Oswald in the movie. Did I mention we all went to Lee Harvey Oswald's grave with Rothhaar on Oswald's birthday, too? It was the capper to a visit to Dallas that was chock full of such moments. Conversations segued seamlessly from conspiracy theories to debates about favorite movies, history intersected with fiction more often than anyone expected, and "known facts" were thrown into question by both the people who were players in both this tragic historical event and the movie about it. Let's just say it was a memorable weekend.
The crossover between reality and fiction began the moment journalists checked into the Hilton Fort Worth, previously the Texas Hotel. This was the last place where President John F. Kennedy spent the night prior to his assassination, and his last public speeches were both inside and outside of the hotel. Though the room where he slept has been remodeled (as has everything else), a life size bronze statue of Kennedy stands just outside. Fort Worth, like Dallas, has been faced with striking a tricky balance since 1963 -- how to honor (and, yes, capitalize) on being part of an important historical moment, as well as how to be respectful of a nation's tragedy at the same time. Repeatedly during the trip, we were told about locations that were once planned for demolition to "erase the shame," only for them to be turned into museums or historical landmarks later.
Shortly after we arrived, we were given a chance to meet with a mix of people who were somehow associated with Kennedy or Oswald's last days as well as people associated with "Killing Kennedy." I spoke briefly with Kelly Masterson, who adapted Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard's book for the screen.