ABC has fired the latest salvo in the Network Papal Wars, scheduling its Pope John Paul II biopic three days before CBS’ version.
Meanwhile, in other scheduling news, NBC has ordered six more editions of frosh reality skein “Three Wishes,” as well as three additional segs of critically acclaimed laffer “The Office.”
“Three Wishes” has performed decently for the Peacock on Friday, which has become a tough night to lure viewers. The feel-good reality skein has averaged a 2.2 rating and 7 share among adults 18-49, and attracts 7.7 million viewers. Show has won its timeslot the past two weeks.
“I feel like we’ve accomplished a great deal in the initial few episodes,” said exec producer Andrew Glassman. “It’s a great calling to have NBC say, ‘Go out and find deserving people and try to make great things happen for them.’ ”
As for the primetime Rope-a-Pope, the Alphabet web’s “Have No Fear: The Life of Pope John Paul II” will air Thursday, Dec. 1, at 8 p.m. That gives the net a headstart on CBS, which will air its four-hour “Pope John Paul II” on Sunday, Dec. 4, and Wednesday, Dec. 7.
The ABC pic stars Thomas Kretschmann (“The Pianist”) as Pope John Paul II, while Bruno Ganz plays Cardinal Wyszynski, the Primate of Poland, and Joaquim de Almeida is Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero.
The telepic follows Karol Wojtyla’s ascension to the papacy, as well as John Paul’s public and private life.
The papal longform battle took shape soon after John Paul II’s death earlier this year. CBS was first to announce a longform project, but ABC quickly started developing its own telepic. ABC then managed to start production in Lithuania on its project in August, a week before CBS’ mini began shooting in Poland and Italy.
The competition between the two projects extended behind the scenes, as producers behind both ABC’s and CBS’ John Paul projects worked together on CBS’ 2000 longform “Jesus.”
Eye, meanwhile, has a leg up when it comes to exclusive screenings: Pope Benedict XVI will be shown the CBS mini at the Vatican on Nov. 17.