It was reported today that CBS will not air this fall a controversial show about a Catholic priest. Produced by Sylvester Stallone, “Father Lefty” did not make the midseason lineup either. As recently as May 8, it was reported that Stallone was confident that CBS president Leslie Moonves would not let him down. An AP story said Stallone believed that Moonves “would have been blunt if the show didn’t have a chance.”
The Catholic League has been monitoring this show for some time, as far back as when it was originally called “The Priest.” And it let Mr. Moonves know of its concerns. William Donohue, president of the league, commented on this today:
“Yo, Sly, what happened? Has Moonves been playing rope-a-dope with the Italian Stallion?
“On November 2, 2001, I wrote a letter to Leslie Moonves stating that I had read in the Hollywood Reporter that CBS was planning on doing a show about ‘a nonconformist priest in a big city, who helps both homeless and rich people with their problems, while struggling with personal problems of his own, including fidelity.’
“Being a bit coy, I then asked Moonves the following: ‘Could you tell me if the show is about an Episcopal priest (that certainly would be virgin territory for TV) or a Roman Catholic one (ABC had a show about a nonconformist priest in ‘Nothing Sacred’ that was so loaded with propaganda that it motivated the Catholic League to conduct a boycott against the show’s sponsors; the boycott worked).’
“On December 17, 2001, a woman from his office called. I spoke to her the next day. She confirmed that the priest was indeed cast as a Roman Catholic. To which I confessed my utter lack of astonishment.
“Yo, Sly, ever think about getting out of the ring once and for all?”