Pope John Paul II may have worked the first miracle of his '87 U.S.A. tour Tuesday when he shared a room at the Registry Hotel in Universal City with 1,500 members of the entertainment industry and lightning did not strike.
His biggest miracle, however, figured to be getting out of town without signing with a major agency. God knows they would all love to have him.
As Hollywood prepared for its audience with the Pope, it is not hard to imagine the kinds of conversations that occurred. . . .
"I'm telling you, Mike, we can get him $15 million and 20% of the gross to play Moses in a remake of 'The Ten Commandments,' " crowed Herman White, as he and his partner at Fastbuck Artists Agency prepared for Tuesday's audience with the Pope.
"Get serious, Herman," Michael Thrasher said. "The man's a Catholic, Moses was a Jew."
"It's a movie, for crying out loud, nobody cares what an actor's religion is. Charlton Heston played Moses and John the Baptist and Cardinal Richelieu. All I know about him is that he's a Republican."
"It won't fly, believe me. You're going to get away with a poster that says 'The Ten Commandments,' starring Pope John Paul II as Moses?' Not even Cannon would try that."
"So, we'll get a rewrite on the script, make Moses a Catholic. History gets rewritten all the time in movies. In 'The Untouchables,' Frank Nitti is pushed off a roof, which is a lot more fun than the truth. But who cares? It's called 'suspension of disbelief.' "
"I think we'd be better off leaving Moses a Jew and having the Pope use his real name. Or he could just go with John Paul. 'Pope' is the giveaway."
"His real name won't work. I looked it up. His first name is Karol and his last name looks like a word scramble. 'W-o-j-t-y-l-a.' Besides, I like Pope John Paul II. It sounds like the sequel to something that worked. Like 'Jaws 2.' 'Superman II,' 'Revenge of the Nerds II.' "
"Let's pitch him some other projects. He looks like Henry Travers, who played the angel in 'It's a Wonderful Life.' Maybe we can package a remake on that. Or how about something like 'Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo' where John Paul enters the Popemobile in the Grand Prix?"
"We'd better come up with something unique. Signing this guy is not going to be easy. ICM, CAA, William Morris. Everyone's taking a shot. Book deals, albums, toys, comic books. I heard that MCA Inc. offered him 30% of its stock for the rights to duplicate the Vatican for the Universal Studios Tour. Promised him the Conan spot."
"We've got to get him a television deal, a regular show with a satellite feed. Something like 'The Oprah Winfrey Show,' with victims of possession and exorcists and so on. Or a call-in show like 'Dr. Ruth.' "
"That's it! 'The Pope John Paul Show.' 'Confessions of the Rich and Famous.' We line up all these celebrities who will beg for forgiveness on live TV while Robin Leach narrates dramatic re-creations of their sins."
"Fantastic! Is Gary Hart Catholic?"
"It doesn't matter. What's it take to say, 'OK, we did it.' If we can book Hart for the first show, it's Nielsen heaven. We're home free."
"Hart. Rice. Ollie North. Richard Nixon. The Bakkers. Hugh Hefner. The guest list is endless!"
"We'll even book Mother Teresa. Nobody's perfect."
"John Paul's got to love it. Repentance and reruns. The show will do a million a minute in prime time and mop up in syndication."
"Plus, the world will be a better place to live?"
"Yeah, sure, and it will owe us 10%."
The Fastbuck partners were still laughing when they got to the Registry Hotel Tuesday, but the day ended on a downer. The Pope's emissaries turned down their invitation to break bread at Spago and said that if the partners hoped to meet him, they would have to stand in line and take their chances like everyone else.
Only Michael managed to get close enough to be heard by the Pope.
"What happened?," Herman asked, when he got to his partner.
"All I could do was yell out the title of the show."
"What did he say?"
"He said, 'God bless you.' "
"That's all? Did you mention the satellite feed, syndication rights? Did you tell him about my idea for 'The Ten Commandments?' "
"I started to and he said, 'I will see you in the Kingdom of God.' Some guy yells out, 'What makes you think there are agents in heaven, your holiness?' "
"What did the Pope do?"
"He smiled and said, 'It's called suspension of disbelief.' "