LOS ANGELES TIMES
HOLLYWOOD -- It might not outdo "The Da Vinci Code" for sheer thrills, but CBS' programming chief says the network's miniseries about Pope John Paul II promises to be "a papal page-turner."
Speaking recently at the semiannual Television Critics Association media tour in Beverly Hills, CBS entertainment President Nina Tassler told reporters she had just finished reading the script for the first of two planned episodes dramatizing the life of the Polish-born pontiff, who died in April at 84.
The network has not set a date for the premiere of the miniseries, which will star Ian Holm as the elderly pope and Cary Elwes as the young Karol Wojtyla, who became John Paul II in 1978.
CBS said last month that the Vatican would cooperate with the project.
Tassler -- whose boss, Viacom Co-president and Co-chief Operating Officer Leslie Moonves, had a rare absence from the media tour because of a corporate scheduling conflict -- said the movie will set Wojtyla's spiritual journey against the Nazi attack on Poland in 1939 and other dramatic events.
"It tracks, in a very personal and emotional way, how he got his calling," Tassler said. "It's a papal page-turner."
As the only broadcast network that still carves out a weekly slot on its schedule for made-for-TV movies, CBS has had some success by moving away slightly from family-oriented or women-in-trouble dramas in favor of thrillers or biopics.