THE PRIEST AND THE MODEL
Catalyst December Issue 1999
It is no secret that the media love conflict. Or that the tensions between sex and religion make for good copy. But when the media force a conflict between sex and religion—especially when the religion is Catholicism—they can expect to hear from the Catholic League. That’s what happened in the case of media hype over a yet-to-be shown CBS series, “Survivor.”
Next summer, CBS plans to run 13 one-hour episodes of a Mark Burnett produced show, “Survivor.” The program will feature 16 volunteers and are marooned together for 49 days on a deserted island off Borneo. The catch is that every three days one member of the group will be voted off the island by the rest, with the last person left collecting a prize of $1 million.
When the league learned that Burnett had said that “Maybe there will be a 60-year old Catholic priest and a 20-year-old drop-dead (gorgeous) model from Los Angeles,” William Donohue decided to write the producer. He had only one suggestion: “how about pairing the young woman with a Buddhist monk?” His reasoning was that “They are underrepresented on television and might make for an interesting combination.”
Burnett, we are pleased to note, called Donohue promptly explaining what really happened. When asked by reporters the kinds of characters who would wind up on the island, Burnett mentioned a traffic cop, a Catholic priest, a lawyer, homemaker, a model, et al. It was the media, more specifically a reporter for Reuters, that juxtaposed the priest with the model.
Donohue was satisfied with Burnett’s candor and contriteness.