According to a report posted online today (Aug. 5) in The Hollywood Reporter, Pope Francis is looking to improve both the Church’s influence on Western culture, and the way it’s portrayed in popular entertainment, by playing host to a summit meeting sometime this fall at the Vatican.
From the article:
The pontiff apparently is interested in discussing how the church is perceived by Western media influencers and ways to improve its portrayal in entertainment. The Vatican, which is said to be working with the nonprofit Varkey Foundation, came up with a list of Hollywood players to invite to a summit of sorts. Film and television producer Brian Grazer, OWN mogul Oprah Winfrey, actor Matt Damon and semiretired supermogul David Geffen also scored invites, according to sources.
Also reportedly on the guest list is William Morris Endeavor super-agent Ari Emanuel. His brothers include former White House chief of staff, and current Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and oncologist/bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel, who became a lightning rod for controversy because of his contributions to Obamacare (and for his writings on the issue of how to allocate limited medical resources).
As for The Varkey Foundation, it’s the creation of Sunny Varkey, the Indian-born, Catholic-educated head of GEMS Education, which says it’s the largest private provider of K-12 education in the world, operating about 70 schools in 18 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., Egypt and China.
Based in Dubai, Varkey — who never attended university himself — is the son of Kerala Christian educators who sought success in Dubai teaching English as a second language in the 1950s.
The pontiff is already visiting the U.S. in September, including stops at the World Meeting of Families Congress in Philadelphia, the United Nations in New York, and a first-ever speech by a pope to a joint session of Congress in Washington, D.C., on the 24th. That’s followed in October by an Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican, to discuss the family and evangelization.
So, it’s hard to say when a confab with Hollywood bigwigs could be squeezed in, but Pope Francis shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
One reason for his great productivity is that Francis reportedly doesn’t watch TV. In an interview with Argentinean newspaper La Voz del Pueblo, reported in the U.K. Independent:
I have not watched TV since 1990. It’s a promise that I made the Virgin of Carmen on the night of 15 July 1990. I told myself: “It’s not for me.”
That means he probably hasn’t seen HBO’s “Entourage,” whose hyperactive talent-agent character, Ari Gold (played by Jeremy Piven), is supposedly based on Emanuel.
Maybe, if it’s all true, someone will send Pope Francis a DVD box set so he can catch up. It’d be interesting to be a fly on the wall for that binge-watching session.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
For more entertainment and digital-media coverage, visit my Pax Culturati blog at Patheos.com, or like my Facebook page.