Tuesday, July 03, 2007

New fall show: Vows

~from National Catholic Register via Catholic Online. This is show is written by St. Blogger Karen Hall.

The fall television lineup will include a show about Catholic priests. But it won’t be a tale about corrupt or dysfunctional priests, as some shows in the past have been.

Rather, “Vows” – now in production for the American Movie Channel – is about a priest who is faithful and is in love with the church.

The innovative drama, whose protagonist is a Jesuit, will be aired as part of AMC’s first efforts to produce original episodic dramas.

AMC brand “Television for movie lovers” is driving the network to produce shows with strong character-driven stories with strong emotional content. Karen Hall, the show’s creator, is an award-winning television writer and novelist. Having written for a number of popular shows, including “M.A.S.H.,” “Judging Amy” and “Northern Exposure,” she has recently been commissioned to write “Vows.”

The idea for the show, she said, was lurking in her imagination for some time.

“When my agent asked if I was going to pitch an idea to the networks for a new series, I told him my only idea was really insane,” she said. Her agent thought a series about Jesuits in a formation house might be, as the agent put it, “outlandish enough to work.”

Much to Hall’s surprise, AMC accepted the pitch immediately last December and asked Hall to meet with them in New York.

“All I could think was, ‘I have four kids and it’s Christmas and they can’t really be serious,’” Hall said. “But they bought the show. This is something I love doing, but at every step I ask myself who am I kidding. It seems unreal.”

Hall believes that part of the reason for the keen interest in the show is a fascination in mainstream American culture with the priesthood. Since the beginning of the church’s sexual abuse scandal in 2002, Hall said that public scrutiny and curiosity about the priesthood is a phenomenon, especially in Hollywood.

“Priests for the most part used to be left alone,” she said. “But now people really wonder what it is like to walk down the street wearing a collar, why men choose to be priests in this day and age, and what the priesthood is about. And in the recent annals of priest screen characters, a man who is faithful to his vows and in love with the church is something that almost never comes out of religious-cynical Hollywood.”

“The orthodox priest-protagonist is a novelty,” she added. “Everything else has been done: the cool liberal priest, the gay priest, the drug-addicted pastor, priests who are pedophiles or who have lost faith. Networks are interested now in what is real, which seems weird enough to them to be compelling.”

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