Kyle's Career Filmstrip: TV Series and Movies

Mar 17, 2013

The Vatican: a Showtime series, a ‘60 Minutes’ report

Kyle Chandler of 'Friday Night Lights' is playing a cardinal in 'The Vatican.' Photo credit: Michael Muller/NBC

The selection of a new pope has put attention back on the Vatican, and television is responding.

Showtime on Friday announced the selection of a pope for “The Vatican,” a new series from Ridley Scott (“Gladiator,” “The Good Wife”). Bruno Ganz will play Pope Sixtus VI, a German pontiff concerned about his legacy. The veteran actor’s many credits include “Wings of Desire,” “The Reader” and “Downfall,” in which he played Adolf Hitler.

“The Vatican” stars Kyle Chandler of “Friday Night Lights” as Cardinal Thomas Duffy, the archbishop of New York. Duffy’s “progressive leanings excite some and alarm others” at the Vatican, Showtime says, in what the channel bills as “a contemporary genre thriller about spirituality, power and politics.”

The participation of Scott, Chandler and Ganz raises expectations for ”The Vatican,” and so does the involvement of Showtime, which has had great success with “Homeland,” a thriller concerned with more worldly matters.

The pilot for “The Vatican” was written by Paul Attanasio, whose credits include”Quiz Show,” “Donnie Brasco” and”House.” Scott, Attanasio and David Zucker (“The Good Wife”) are executive producers. The strong supporting cast includes  Anna Friel  of “Pushing Daisies” as Cardinal Duffy’s rebellious sister,  Matthew Goode of “Match Point” as a papal secretary and Sebastian Koch of “The Lives of Others” as the Vatican’s secretary of state.

Showtime didn’t announce a premiere date. But CBS’ “60 Minutes” will offer a Vatican-inspired report at 7 p.m. Sunday on WKMG-Channel 6. Sister Pat Farrell, whose Leadership Conference of Women Religious has clashed with the Vatican, talks to Bob Simon. Her group represents 80 percent of U.S. nuns and seeks greater responsibilities for women in the Catholic Church.

“Our first obedience is to God,” she tells “60 Minutes.” ”What we obey is God and God’s call to us as expressed in so many different sources. It’s not just the teaching authority of the church, although that is certainly a legitimate part of it.”

The Vatican has blasted her group for hosting speakers promoting “radical feminist themes.” But Sister Pat cites a reason for the Vatican’s criticism. “I don’t know, but it feels to me like fear. What would happen if women really were given a place of equality in the church?” Sister Pat asks.

If nothing else, it sounds like a plot for “The Vatican,” the TV series.

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