Category: News & Trends

The ‘Right Priest’ Who Saved Mickey Rourke Dies at 69

Father Peter Colapietro, the New York priest credited by actor Mickey Rourke with saving his life, has died at 69.

In 1994, furious upon hearing that his then-drug-addicted wife had been raped, Rourke grabbed a gun and went in search of revenge. Instead, he felt an urge to enter the Church of Holy Cross in New York City’s Times Square. There, the pastor saw him.

From a 2009 story in Our Sunday Visitor:

“I reached a place in my life where living was living hard. I was at a crossroads. Because I was raised Catholic, I had issues with the dark side of life I was drifting in,” Rourke said. “I didn’t know this man, Father Peter. I just walked in his church one day, walked in the right door and met the right priest.”

Father Colapietro managed to talk Rourke out of his plan. “He took away my gun and had me leave the note with St. Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes. And he said that part of my life could be over now and I still had the opportunity to do things over again.”

Ever since, Rourke and Father Colapietro stayed friends, with the priest hearing Rourke’s confessions, and the two sharing Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

Said Father Colapietro to OSV:

He definitely is a man of faith and believes in God’s presence in the world.

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that Father Colapietro had passed away from emphysema. He’d been living at a rehab facility in the Bronx and died at Montefiore Medical Center.

Father Colapietro worked in two other Manhattan churches aside from Holy Cross. He spent two years at the Church of St. Monica on East 79th Street; in 2015, he was assigned to St. Malachy, known as the Actors Chapel, on West 49th Street. From the St. Malachy website:

It is with heavy hearts that we must announce the passing or our beloved pastor, Rev. Peter M. Colapietro. Funeral arrangements have been made at
St. Monica’s at 413 East 79th Street

Wake hours will be from 3:00-8:00 pm on Friday, February 9th. The Funeral Service is scheduled 11:00 am on Saturday, February 10th.

As Fr. Pete served at several parishes in Manhattan, the funeral is being held at St. Monica’s according to his request in order to best accommodate the mourners.

Standing 6 feet tall and over 200 pounds, Father Colapietro cut a distinctive figure. According to the Times, he described himself as “just a regular, run-of-of-the-mill priest.” But, having served as chaplain for the New York’s Sanitation Department, the Manhattan Restaurant and Liquor Dealers’ Association, the Metro-North Railroad and the Uniformed Firefighters Association, he was friend and spiritual support to the city’s working class.

Born and raised in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx, Colapietro started — but didn’t finish — his priestly career at St. Joseph’s Seminar and College in Yonkers, N.Y. After stints as a construction worker, longshoreman, fisherman and bouncer, he found his way back to the priesthood.

He was also a man who understood his neighborhood. From the Times:

Father Colapietro was forgiving of the gritty world that surrounded him, as when a 200-pound statue of Christ was stolen from Holy Cross. It was returned a week later, and the police dusted the statue for fingerprints.

Father Colapietro said the church would not seek to press charges, even if the police tracked down a suspect. He said the statue had merely been “borrowed,” not stolen.

Image: Courtesy Facebook page for St. Malachy/Actors’ Chapel

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

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Jim Caviezel: The Full ‘Paul’ Trailer, and Returning to Play Christ

In a previous post, we looked at Jim Caviezel’s role as Luke in the upcoming March 28 movie “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” but now he’s also confirmed he’s reprising the role of Jesus in director Mel Gibson’s sequel to “The Passion of the Christ.”

As reported in USA Today on Jan. 29:

Caviezel, 49, confirmed he will reprise his role as Jesus in the planned film about the resurrection of Christ. “There are things that I cannot say that will shock the audience,” he says. “It’s great. Stay tuned.”

Gibson and his star have been tight-lipped on details of how the new film will move forward. But the actor says he’s been inspired in his talks with Gibson by the direction the project is taking.

“I won’t tell you how he’s going to go about it,” Caviezel says. “But I’ll tell you this much, the film he’s going to do is going to be the biggest film in history. It’s that good.”

From the Hollywood Reporter:

Jim Caviezel is poised to reprise his role as Jesus Christ in the upcoming sequel to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

ICM Partners, which represents Caviezel, confirmed on Tuesday that the actor is in negotiations with Gibson, who would presumably produce, direct or both.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported 20 months ago that a sequel was in the works, but it wasn’t known until Tuesday whether Gibson was interested in again casting Caviezel as Jesus. The actor, 49, first played thirty-something-year-old Jesus 14 years ago.

The full-length trailer for “Paul, Apostle of Christ” has been released. It will also be seen when Family Theater Productions features a Q&A with filmmakers Andrew Hyatt and T.J. Berden in our Hollywood offices on Feb. 7.

Here’s the full trailer:

And a couple of other videos about the movie:

Image: Sony Affirm; ODB Films.

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

Golden Globe Awards: A Few Things to Remember

The Golden Globe Awards nominations came out today. Some folks are cheering; some are cranky; many are both.

Some films and TV shows got lots of love from the voters in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, some got bits, others got none.

In the current climate of scandal in Hollywood, how are we to think about nominations? Among the films and TV shows getting nods are those that celebrate objectively sinful behavior; among those snubbed are ones with uplifting or positive themes (but we are happy to see NBC’s family-centric drama “This Is Us” getting several nods).

Unless recent trends take a 180-degree turn, the Golden Globes broadcast, airing Jan. 7 on NBC, with host Seth Myers, will be rife with political references and jokes, generally at the expense of one side of the aisle.

So, what are Catholics to do?

Here are some helpful things to remember:

People in the entertainment industry (and the journalists that cover it) are not a representative demographic sampling of the general American populace — politically, ideologically, socially or religiously. While that has always been true to an extent, it has become much more publicly obvious in recent decades.

Long ago, Hollywood felt obligated to reflect the likes and interests of the general American public — and to appear to be in agreement with it on major issues — but now it feels more obligated to represent its own interests. The people still speak at the box office, but theirs is not the only voice.

Some entertainment is produced to answer a need and want from the public — hence the popularity of Hallmark’s feel-good Christmas movies, for example — and some is produced based on concepts that have a proven track record (like comic books, young-adult books, video games or bestselling novels).

Other movies and TV shows represent either the passions and interests of those making them, or are designed to appeal to a very specific audience. Among these people, such projects may be considered the highest form of art and tremendously compelling, while to the general public, they may be unappealing, bewildering or even appalling.

If, say, faithful Catholics overwhelmingly ran studios and TV networks, were top agents and screenwriters, financiers and producers, then the landscape would be dramatically different.

That’s emphatically not the case.

People in Hollywood generally tell stories for two reasons (or some combination of the two reasons): to make money, or to satisfy a longing of their hearts.

As a radio friend of mine is wont to say, that which gets rewarded gets repeated. If content that Catholics and other Christians don’t find appealing still makes lots of money, more will get made. If good things come out — like “The Star,” for example — and they don’t make lots of money, more may not be made, at least by major studios.

But if Christians have a longing in their hearts to tell a story that reflects their sensibilities, many will find a way. The same is true of other folks whose hearts and sensibilities tend in very different directions.

And many of these other folks are also awards voters. Like anyone else, they vote for what they like and ignore what they don’t. If they don’t like the same things as you, well, that’s life.

So, to expect awards shows to honor only movies we love and find worthy is to be perpetually disappointed. To expect Hollywood folks to not expound upon their beliefs at awards shows is just as futile.

In the end, our power lies in choice: to see a movie or TV show or not, and to watch an awards show, or not.

Whether Hollywood responds to those choices and makes some changes … well, I’m hopeful but not optimistic.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

‘The Ten Commandments’ Found (or at Least the 1923 Movie Set)

Set of “The Ten Commandments” (1923)

Archaeologists have excavated a sphinx from the sand, and they didn’t have to leave California to do it.

On Dec. 4, 1923, director Cecil B. DeMille’s first — B&W and silent — version of “The Ten Commandments” had its Los Angeles premiere, at the Grauman Egyptian Theater. More than 50 years later, in 1956, DeMille returned to the story in a full-color, widescreen spectacular, starring Charlton Heston as Moses.

The Egyptian scenes from the original film were built at the Guadalupe-Nipomo sand dunes on the Central California coast, between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.


Long before the days of green screen, motion capture, and CG, DeMille had Paul Iribe, a designer known for his spectacular art deco work, to construct a massive set that was 12 stories high and 800 feet wide on the Guadalupe-Nipomo sand dunes. Like the film, the set was ambitious in scale, but as soon as the film wrapped DeMille realized it was too expensive too move and he didn’t want another filmmaker using it. That said, he had it buried.

In early November, archaeologists exploring the dunes unearthed the head of a sphinx, made of Plaster of Paris and weighing about 300 pounds. Even though the film was in black and white, it — like the rest of the set — is painted in brilliant colors.

The saga of finding and digging up DeMille’s 95-year-old set is a story in itself. Back in the ’80s, filmmaker Peter Brosnan heard about the set and wanted to find it. But, he faced headwinds from environmental preservationists, and the actual dig didn’t begin until many years later.

In 2017, he released a documentary called “The Lost City of Cecil B. DeMille,” which includes footage of the dig and interviews with local residents who saw the filming back in the ’20s. Also appearing in the film are DeMille, niece Agnes DeMille, granddaughter Cecelia DeMille Presley (who wrote a book not long ago), Heston and producer A.C. Lyles.

Here’s the trailer:

Sadly, many movie and TV sets, costumes and props have been considered junk once the project ends, winding up recycled, discarded or warehoused. So, much of Hollywood history has been lost, along with the work of countless craftsmen.

Luckily, remnants of the 1923 “The Ten Commandments” are once again seeing the light of day — and you can view the results of the dig.

From Variety:

 The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. is among the organizations helping fund the costly excavation activities. The artifacts can be viewed at the Dunes Center museum in Guadalupe, where the latest sphinx head will go on display in summer, 2018.

Image: Courtesy Paramount Pictures

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

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3 for Tuesday: ‘The Middle’ Halloween, Otters, Puppies and … Play Ball!

Happy Tuesday! Here’s our latest round-up of family-suitable shows airing between Tuesday and Thursday — and you don’t even need to watch them on the Internet (unless you really want to, of course).

All times Eastern.

The Middle: Halloween VIII – Orson Murder Mystery — Tuesday, 8 p.m., ABC

The beloved ABC sitcom about a Midwestern family — with Catholic Patricia Heaton playing the matriarch, Frances “Frankie” Heck — is currently airing its ninth and last season, including a special Halloween episode. It involves Frankie, husband Mike (Neil Flynn), sons Axl and Brick (Charlie McDermott), daughter Sue (Eden Sher) and Axl’s girlfriend Lexie (Daniela Bobadilla).

From ABC:

As Halloween approaches, Frankie discovers that a woman had died in the bathtub of the Heck house close to 50 years ago; Frankie and Brick become convinced that she was murdered and, much to Mike’s chagrin, attempt to track down and find the murderer. Meanwhile, Axl and Lexie become frustrated over losing their alone time when Sue insists on hanging out with them wherever they go.

Here’s a peek at the Season 8 “Farewell Season” trailer:

Nature: Charlie & the Curious Otters — Wednesday, 8 p.m., PBS

(Check local listings for time and date in your area. The film will be available to stream the following day for four weeks via and PBS OTT apps.)

From PBS:

How otters are able to operate so successfully on both land and in water has fascinated wildlife filmmaker Charlie Hamilton James for years, so he decided to see what he could learn from studying several species around the world to discover their survival secrets.

The program focuses on efforts to rehabilitate three orphaned river otters in Wisconsin, shows some ground breaking experiments using cool cameras and anatomical CGI, and captures other wild encounters.

At the Wild Instincts Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, Charlie is introduced to three orphan river otter pups and films their progress and training:  from needing around the clock care and feeding, to being taught the crucial skills they will need in order to return to the wild. Despite the fact otters can swim nearly a quarter mile without coming up for air, baby otters do not start out as natural swimmers and they don’t really like water. So the center’s manager Mark Naniot assumes the roles of surrogate mother and teacher. Charlie films him coaxing the pups into a small pool for swimming lessons and later adding minnows which the orphans instinctively chase and catch.

Too Cute: OMG! Puppy Power — Wednesday, 8 p.m., Animal Planet

Who doesn’t love watching puppies grow up? OK, I’m sure there’s someone out there, but for the rest of us, there’s this puppy adventure, with some OMG! extras thrown in.

From Animal Planet:

Little Roo is the smallest of a litter of Beagles, but proves to his sisters that he is top dog. A litter of super fluffy Bichon Frise pups follow mom’s path to show dog stardom. And in a litter of twelve Doberman Pinschers, one pup stands out.

Take a peek:


The 2017 World Series — Tuesday, 8 p.m., Fox

Baseball swings into the Fall Classic, as the Houston Astros — pride of the storm-battered Texas city — take on the City of Angels’ hometown heroes, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the World Series.

For lots of families in the U.S. — hit by hurricanes, floods and fires — the great American pastime could be a great unifying force (and an excuse for hot dogs and popcorn together, on the sofa or, if you’re very lucky, in the ballpark).

Speaking of weather, heat and Santa Ana winds are battering Southern California, so triple-digit temperatures could greet the players and crowd at Dodger Stadium.

From AccuWeather:

“Games 1 and 2 could be the hottest world series games on record at the time of first pitch,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.

moderate Santa Ana event will be responsible for the heat this week. While the area around Dodger Stadium is sheltered, winds will still be gusty and can swirl around through the park.

It’s not that the Astros aren’t used to playing in toasty temps, but at least L.A. doesn’t have Houston’s humidity. As we like to say out here — it’s a dry heat!

Image: Courtesy ABC

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.

EWTN Celebrates Fatima 100 and the Rosary With Two Specials

Friday, Oct. 13, represents the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun in 1917, the most publicly spectacular manifestation of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.

From eyewitness accounts at EWTN’s 100 Years of Fatima site:

From the road, where the vehicles were parked and where hundreds of people who had not dared to brave the mud were congregated, one could see the immense multitude turn toward the sun, which appeared free from clouds and in its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver, and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse which was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up, and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: “A miracle! A miracle!”

Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws—the sun “danced” according to the typical expression of the people.

Standing at the step of an omnibus was an old man. With his face turned to the sun, he recited the Credo in a loud voice. I asked who he was and was told Senhor Joao da Cunha Vasconcelos. I saw him afterwards going up to those around him who still had their hats on, and vehemently imploring them to uncover before such an extraordinary demonstration of the existence of God.

Identical scenes were repeated elsewhere, and in one place a woman cried out: “How terrible! There are even men who do not uncover before such a stupendous miracle!”

Tomorrow, EWTN marks the occasion with two special events. From my inbox:

EWTN To Broadcast Two Special Fatima-Related Events –

At 10 a.m. ET, EWTN will broadcast the 15th annual Worldwide Children’s Eucharistic Holy Hour live from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (BSNIC). This annual event spiritually unites the children of the world before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. The children will make reparation to console Jesus, and pray for their families, their countries and the world.

Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, Director of the Association of Marian Helpers of the Immaculate Conception, will preside at the Holy Hour. For further information, please go to

That evening, Cardinal Donald Wuerl will lead a Historic Candlelight Rosary Procession and a Prayer of Entrustment for individuals, and families to Our Lady of Fatima’s Immaculate Heart. EWTN will broadcast the event live from the BSNIC at 7 p.m. ET, Friday, Oct. 13.

“Gather your families, wherever you are on the evening of October 13, if possible, tune in to EWTN, light a candle, pray the Rosary and the prayer of Entrustment, spiritually uniting with Cardinal Wuerl,” said Connie Schneider, Director of the two events said. “We hope Catholics worldwide will join in from their dioceses, parishes, homes, nursing homes…everywhere!” 

A Family Entrustment Pamphlet is available to help families follow along with the prayers during this special event.

Click here to learn more about how Fatima, Portugal, is marking the event.

And if you’d like to pray the rosary with FTP’s founder, Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., the “Rosary Priest,” who traveled the world (and created our company) to promote family unity, faith and prayer, click here for an entire series of videos that let you experience the mysteries of the rosary with Father Peyton.

Here’s a sample:

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Learn more about Family Theater Productions’ upcoming, new and vintage productions as well as our Hollywood Outreach Programs; and, of course, you’ll find us on Facebook.

Visit our YouTube and Ustream Channels for our contemporary and classic productions.