They kept telling him no one would watch it. It would skew too old, women wouldn't be interested, people didn't care about history, it didn't have foreign appeal, there were too many characters, the story was too convoluted.
For nearly three decades, producer Leslie Greif heard this from showbiz executives all over town while he doggedly pitched his project about the legendary blood feud between two Civil War-era Appalachian families. And then it aired and made cable ratings history and went on to pull in 16 Emmy nominations, the most in the network's history.
"Hatfields & McCoys," a six-hour miniseries, aired Memorial Day weekend on History, averaging nearly 14 million viewers over each of three nights, which set the record as the second-most watched program ever on ad-supported cable (the first was the Disney Channel movie "High School Musical 2," in 2007).
"With the ratings and acceptance and recognition of our peers, this is a dream come true," Greif said the morning nominations were announced. "I knew it was a great story about the senselessness of violence and what we do for honor. It's timeless and universal," he had said in an earlier interview.