Father Figure Gets New Talk Show

After authoring his own dilemma, Albert Cutie ministers to talk-show guests with problems

Broadcasting comes naturally to Father
Albert Cutie. In 1999, Telemundo was looking
for a priest to host a talk show, and after a
search chose the former Roman Catholic priest (whose
name is pronounced Cue-tee-ay). Padre Alberto ran
for several seasons; Cutie has also hosted the talk radio
show Hablando Claro con el Padre Alberto, which
aired on the EWTN radio network in the U.S., Canada,
Spain and all over Latin America.

But Cutie's fame -- or infam --”grew when he was
photographed kissing his girlfriend, now his wife,
Ruhama Buni Canellis, on a Miami beach. After some
soul-searching, Cutie left the church, became an Episcopalian
and continued his ministry. Today, Cutie and
Canellis have a 7-month-old baby girl.

On July 11, Debmar-Mercury is launching a five-week
test of Father Albert in six Fox markets: WNYW New
York at noon, KTTV Los Angeles at 2 p.m., KDFW Dallas
at 1 p.m., WTVT Tampa at 11 a.m., KMSP Minneapolis
at 1 p.m. and KSAZ Phoenix at 1 p.m.

Prior to that launch, Cutie spoke with B&C Contributing
Editor Paige Albiniak. An edited transcript

You created quite a stir when you were caught
kissing your then-girlfriend in Miami. What do
you make of all that now?

When my situation first came out, it was very painful
and it was treated like it was some grave, horrible
scandal. I never expected my personal struggle to be
such a public focus of attention.

Nobody should feel like they are living a double life.
That's why I called my book Dilemma, because I really
was having a dilemma. A dilemma is a very deep
struggle that human beings allow themselves to be in
because they don't know 100% which direction is really
right for them. I've always loved ministry and I
loved being a priest. But I've also always been a family
man and paternal figure. That's why I believe God ultimately
called me to be an Episcopal priest.

What can you say about the new show?

The show will be about people's dilemmas and how
they deal with them. My dilemma was solved once I
allowed myself to move on and make the decision. But
many people live in a dilemma forever.

I think the show is going to be very exciting because
there's not a whole lot of this in television right
now. We have a lot of judge shows and shows that
are driven by journalists and media people, like the
Anderson Cooper show, or even the Oprah show. My
show will be from a much more practical self-help
angle. I'll listen to people's dilemmas, and people in
the audience will interact with those dilemmas. The
key will be finding the solution. There's no dilemma
without hope. At the end, we all just have to be happy
with ourselves.

Will the show have a spiritual or religious angle
to it?

It's funny: Mr. Rogers was a Presbyterian pastor who helped
children every day. When I watched him I saw a minister, even though he never
talked about that on the show.

I think you can minister to people and help people as a
nurse, as a doctor, lawyer, judge or priest. I think people come with what
hurts. Sometimes that's an emotional or spiritual dilemma. Part of this
program's ethos is to look at the emptiness, sadness and struggle of life and
see what we can do to make it better.

For me, it's always been about keeping it broad and
accessible. We are focusing on people's dilemmas regardless of where they are
from. I have always believed that you have to honor people from where they come
and where they are at.

I'll say what Oprah said at the end of her show: we really
have touched people's lives and that's what makes the journey worthwhile.
That's what my life is about: helping people figure out the dilemma.

What led you into the priesthood?

I was a very social kid, and I was a deejay when I was a
teenager. That led me to understand a little bit of what people look for in
life and, in some ways, to be happy. At that time, music was an important part
of my life and all my friends' lives. As I started looking at the lives of all
the people around me, I started realizing that there was more to life than
noise, dancing and partying. My world became two worlds: the world of
spirituality and church, and the world of music and dancing. In the end, God's
noise was louder in my mind.

I thought that I was going to do away with microphones and
media. I had my own music talk show on the public radio station in Miami.
It aired on Friday nights and the music was great. But when I entered seminary,
music was over for me. I did no media work. It wasn't until my third year as a
priest back in 1999 when I got a phone call from a Spanish-language network [Telemundo]
to host a talk show in Spanish.

Staying with my music wasn't as important to me as bringing
people closer to God, helping people live a better life and doing everything I
could to make the world a better place.

How did this new show come to be?

I had been invited on several occasions in the last several
years to make this transition. People would ask me to "do that self-help stuff
you do in English." But I would always put it off. When I became an Episcopal
priest, the bishop of that church said, "I don't want you to abandon your media
ministry." He had been the Bishop of Honduras for almost 20 years, and he knew
me because I had been in 22 countries throughout Latin America.
He always saw the power of my media ministry. So when I got the invitation to
do the talk show from Debmar-Mercury, he told me to go for it.

People call you "Father Oprah." Why do you think that is?

I remember telling Oprah Winfrey when I was on her show once
that it wasn't me who came up with that phrase, but the people who were
watching the show and could see and understand what it was in Spanish. I think
that name was directed at the self-help type of talk show that I was doing. It
wasn't just a talk show to exploit people's problems. At the end of the show,
they felt like "˜I can live a better life. I can get over this trauma, dilemma
or difficulty." People could relate to the kind of thing that I was trying to

E-mail comments to palbiniak@gmail.com
and follow her on Twitter: @PaigeA