The entertainment business--that entity involved in creating television shows and motion pictures--as a trade does not often seem to affirm the power of faithfulness or the goodness of human nature. However, Ellwood E. Kieser, Paulist priest and Hollywood producer, wants to eliminate that presumption.
In his recently published autobiography, Hollywood Priest: A Spiritual Struggle (Doubleday, 1991, $19, cloth), Kieser invites us to review his life with him. By doing so, he helps us realize that, despite Hollywood's overwhelming emphasis on physical perfection and self-image, it is possible to remain honest with yourself and faithful to God, and to create powerful, spirit-filled productions.
A producer since 1960, Kieser uses the TV and movie media to present biographical and fictional accounts of people who are fervent with the knowledge and understanding of God's love for them. He believes this to be a powerful means to spread the gospel message.
The book moves chronologically, detailing Kieser's healthy childhood and his youthful confusion about God's plan for his life. He talks about his days as a young parish priest in Los Angeles and how the faith discussion group he designed for adults led to his work in the entertainment field.
There is a chapter on his journey to Rome for Vatican Council II, and a chapter about his (chaste) love affair with a young nun. Later, in Hollywood, he creates the Humanitas Award for excellence in script-writing, and he works to bring the story of Oscar Romero to the big screen.