Father Alberto Cutie, a bestselling author of self-help books and radio talk show host as well as a former Roman Catholic priest, will join the ranks of gabbers and host a daily syndie strip devoted to life matters.Father Cutie is not new to this kind of of work. He developed a huge following on Telemundo and in syndication in Latin America when, as a Roman Catholic, and became known as "Father Oprah."
"It'll be everything from sex to salvation," Father Alberto told The Hollywood Reporter Tuesday in Miami during the NATPE TV trade show.
Hopefully it'll invite "greater dialog" with the audience, he added. Sorta Oprah meets Dr. Phil meets Bishop Sheen, the only other religious personnage who ever fronted a national TV show. (And that was in the 1950s!)
The show is being licensed by Debmar-Mercury and the first station group to step up for a launch test is Fox.
The show will preview on a number of as yet unspecified Fox stations this summer. The Fox test markets will include N.Y. and L.A., the country's top two markets. Other non-Fox outlets may be invited to join the test as well.
Jack Abernethy, CEO of the Fox TV station group, said there has been a crying need for an inspirational show for stations for many years. "Something not dogmatic or rigid but uplifting and helpful to viewers. Such things are big business in other media like book publishing and the radio but not on television," he pointed out.
The fact that an Episcopal priest has snagged a syndicated television project like this for a mass market audience (in two languages, no less!) is a very big deal. If it passes the test markets--mainly to see how well Cutie is received among non-Hispanic viewers who did not know him when he was on Telemundo--this will be a huge entry for the Episcopal Church in an audience that we do not often reach out to, in a forum that is new to us.
See also The Episcopal Cafe on this story.