Friday, June 19, 2015

CAN POPE FRANCIS INFLUENCE HOLLYWOOD'S UPPER ECHELON?

Pontiff Contacts Rossi: Will Rossi Direct Big Budget Baseball Flick?
Pope sent director Richard Rossi letter from Vatican
The media attention from Pope Francis contacting movie director Richard Rossi, about his film "Baseball's Last Hero: 21 Clemente Stories," a low budget indie that catalyzed a campaign to have baseball icon and humanitarian Roberto Clemente canonized as a saint, raises a question.  Will Rossi helm a new big budget movie on Clemente produced by Legendary Entertainment, the studio behind tentpole films like Jurassic World and Batman movies?

"We are praying and organizing to get Richard Rossi to direct the recently announced big budget movie on Clemente's life," Sister Mary Ellen, a nun familiar with the project said. 

"Thousands of us have been touched and impressed with what Richard did on a mini-budget directing 'Baseball's Last Hero: 21 Clemente Stories.' Pope Francis is a fan of Richard's film and will use his influence to get Richard to direct the next Clemente film. With a bigger budget behind him, it will be another masterpiece for the Master."

Filmmaker Richard Rossi "Clemente is a saint in my eyes"
The dramatic fulcrum of "Baseball’s Last Hero" is a conversation Clemente has with a nun. 

"She talks to him about the cross. ’Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends,’ is what the nun quotes to him from Scripture, talking about ’sacrificial love and Christ’s sacrificial love,’" Rossi said in an interview with the Tribune Review. 

"This is the theme I wanted to point out -- an allegory of Christ on the cross." Rossi was pressured to delete the scene from the movie for being "too preachy and too Catholic." 

The controversial scene turned out to be one of the most popular scenes in the film and won over fans to the idea of pitching the Pope for Clemente's canonization as a saint. Rossi, a former evangelical minister, received several messages of support, including a letter showing papal support from Pope Francis in starting the process from the Vatican through the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C. and from Archbishop Jose Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Pirates player Neil Walker "wouldn't be surprised"
"I've never thought of him in terms of being a saint,” said Pirates second baseman Neil Walker,  a devout Catholic whose father knew Clemente. “But he's somebody who lived his life serving others, really. So if it would happen, I wouldn't be terribly surprised by it.” 

"If the Pope's influence prevails and Rossi has a big studio behind him, he'll take the heart and worldwide following for his first film on a cinematic and spiritual journey that will bring home the Oscar and encourage millions to love their neighbors like Clemente did," predicted the Vatican source.  

"I cannot confirm or deny anything regarding the Pope's feelings for my film," Rossi said.  "I don't want to claim an endorsement from him just because others speak for him...My film shows Clemente's life of faith and sacrificial love."

"I'm not interested in making a movie that's overly preachy or religious," Rossi said.  "The Christlike nature of Clemente's death in an effort to save Nicaraguan earthquake victims is organic to the story itself. Roberto Clemente is already a saint in my eyes by his actions and the grace of God."