POPE BENEDICT XVI ATTENDS WORLD PREMIERE VATICAN SCREENING OF CBS�S MINI-SERIES �POPE JOHN PAUL II� AND BLESSES THE PROJECT IN REMARKS MADE TO AN AUDIENCE OF 7,000
ROME -- Thursday, Nov. 17 -- Earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI attended a special world premiere screening of the CBS mini-series POPE JOHN PAUL II at the Vatican in the Paolo VI Hall, the site of the pope's weekly general audience. In remarks made to the audience of 7,000, at the conclusion of the screening, Pope Benedict XVI blessed the mini-series. POPE JOHN PAUL II, a new four-hour mini-series event based on the remarkable life of Pope John Paul II, shot on location in Krakow, Poland and in Italy, will be broadcast Sunday, Dec. 4 (9:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) and Wednesday, Dec. 7 (8:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Among the special guests in attendance at the screening were Academy Award winner Jon Voight, who portrays Pope John Paul II during his extraordinary 26-year reign, Cary Elwes, who plays Karol Wojtyla in his adult years prior to being elected pope on Oct. 16, 1978, producers from the mini-series including executive producers Stephen J. Davis and Matilde Bernabei, producer Luca Bernabei and writer/director John Kent Harrison. Also in attendance were Nancy Tellem, President, CBS Paramount Network Television Entertainment Group and Bela Bajaria, Senior Vice President, Movies and Mini-Series, CBS Entertainment.
Pope Benedict XVI, a long-time friend of Pope John Paul II, is briefly depicted in the mini-series during the period in which he was known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, whom Pope John Paul II had appointed to the key position of Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981. Upon entering the front of the hall, Pope Benedict XVI was welcomed with a joyful applause as the crowd rose. Since Italian is the official language of the Vatican, the Italian version of the film was shown. The crowd saw a brief cut-down of Night One and all of Night Two of the mini-series, which covers the 26 years of the papacy of John Paul II.
The audience clapped enthusiastically when the actor playing Cardinal Ratzinger (Mikolaj Grabowski) made his first appearance in the film, and they gave a rousing round of applause at the conclusion as well.
Following the screening, Voight and Elwes were among a small group of people who were able to speak with the pope. �It was truly a wonderful experience and we were, indeed, more than fortunate to have the pope give our film his blessing,� said Elwes. Added Voight, �When I went up to him, he spoke in Italian but I could understand what he was saying. He was complimenting me. His response to me was very warm and friendly -- like we were old friends. Immediately when he saw me, his eyes lit up and he was very charming. I told him I was so happy to meet him, that it was a big moment in my life.�
Producer Luca Bernabei was delighted with the event. �It was an important premiere of 7,000 people, including the pope, 15 cardinals and approximately 500 priests and bishops from the Curia of the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI said the film found the spirituality of Pope John Paul II and that it has a wonderful message that is going to last and go throughout the world. Then he blessed the project and all the people involved.�
POPE JOHN PAUL II was produced by LuxVide Grupa Filmowa Baltmedia & Studio Filmowe Projektor Grupo Intereconomia Rai Trade.
RATING: To Be Announced