John Paul II Miniseries in Works


Although a new Pope has been named, the former Pope will live on not only in the hearts of the faithful, but on the development schedules of the hopeful.

Given the tens of millions of TV viewers in this country and around the world who followed the passing of Pope John Paul II, a miniseries was inevitable.

Word first surfaced during the MIPTV annual international television market in Cannes, France, last week—only days after the pope's interment—that serious discussions were under way for a TV epic about his life.

At the center of the project, according to industry sources, is Ettore Bernabei, the chairman of LUX, an Italian independent production company. The veteran producer has developed close ties with the Vatican during a storied career that includes working on several religious-themed international TV epics.

Among the productions he has been part of are five biblical-themed movies that ran on TNT in the mid 1990s, including Abraham and Jacob, and Joseph: A TNT Bible Story. The LUX chief was also part of the co-production of Jesus on CBS in 2000. Jesus drew more than 20 million viewers, making it the year's highest-rated miniseries.

Some of the same people involved in Jesus are in discussions about the Pope John Paul II project, including Italian broadcaster RAI. Feelers have been put out to CBS as well.

The producers are seeking the Vatican's cooperation with this project, as they did with the Jesus miniseries. It was screened at the Vatican and Viacom Co-COO Les Moonves (then CBS president) got an audience with John Paul II. The word out of Cannes: The producers are aiming to air the miniseries next spring.