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"Hollywood Priest: The Story of Father 'Bud' Kieser" to Screen at Garden State Film Festival

originally published: 03/10/2022

"Hollywood Priest: The Story of Father

(ASBURY PARK, NJ) -- Hollywood Priest: The Story of Father ‘Bud’ Kieser, a truly unique documentary film which details the extraordinary life, entertainment industry career and national influence of Father Edward “Bud” Kieser, a Catholic Clergyman and the Founder of Paulist Productions, will be a featured presentation, making its East Coast debut, during the upcoming Garden State Film Festival on March 26th at 3:45pm in Asbury Park at the Berkeley Hotel in the Kingsley Ballroom.

Hollywood Priest presents an in-depth profile of Father “Bud” Kieser, a longtime resident of Los Angeles, CA, who passed away in 2000 at the age of 71. Father Kieser was a 44-year-long Priest, whose legacy continues to this day, with the annual awarding of the prestigious Humanitas Prize - an honor which he founded in 1974. Awarded annually, the Humanitas Prize honors film and television writers whose work inspires more compassion, peace, love, and dignity within the human family.

Hollywood Priest: The Story of Father ‘Bud’ Kieser presents the extraordinary spiritual and professional arc of a Los Angeles-based Roman Catholic priest who founded Paulist Productions and worked with Hollywood’s top actors as he executive produced the nationally syndicated TV series “Insight” from 1960 to 1985. For “Insight,” Kieser enlisted the talents of many of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including: Bob Newhart, John Amos, Ed Begley, Jr., Martin Sheen, William Shatner, Harvey Korman, Ron Howard, Walter Matthau, Mark Hammill, Tim Matheson, Carol Burnett, John Ritter, Cecily Tyson, Rosanna Arquette, Jane Wyman, Brian Keith, Marion Ross, and many others.

Tickets are available for purchase online.  The Garden State Film Festival has in-person screenings from March 23-27 and then virtual screenings from March 28 to April 3, 2022. For more information on the festival, click here.

“Everybody knew Father Kieser. It was almost the way you pictured a movie - the voice of God,” said Bob Newhart. “You knew if you were going to (appear in an episode of) ‘Insight’, you were going to get the quality of (a great) director and quality of the writing and quality of the cast.”  

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(When we were in Africa together helping the poor,) “I asked him, ‘Is what I’m doing here going to have a positive effect on this at all? And he said, ‘We can only try.’ (Father Kieser) was a life saver in a lot of respects. He was the one responsible for really bringing the world’s attention to the (famine) situation over there in Ethiopia and Somalia,” said John Amos.

“The thing that was special about Bud Kieser - he didn’t judge you. Whether we were religious or Jewish or Catholic or Protestant, whatever, we were all accepted,” said Tim Mathewson.

“It was an honor to be in one of those (‘Insight’) shows. Those were good scripts – good, excellent scripts,” recalled Marion Ross.

"Hollywood Priest: The Story of Father

Discussing how he and his fellow Hollywood actors would appear on Father Bud’s “Insight” TV series: (“Getting a part on ‘Insight’) was always a welcome relief over all the other stuff you had to do on television back in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s - the whole time I played - where you had to rob somebody or kill somebody or do something awful!” said Martin Sheen.

At 6’ 7” and often referred to as “A Gentle Giant,” Kieser also served as the executive producer of the critically acclaimed feature film Romero, starring the legendary Raul Julia in the title role of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated in San Salvador in 1980.

During the course of his long career, Father “Bud” became renowned throughout Hollywood and the United States as the creator of televised content that reflected his deeply held, personal faith in social activism, non-violence, and the resilience of the human spirit. During his decades as a television production, Father “Bud” received six Emmys Awards; a Christopher award; the Imogen Award of the National Conference of Christians & Jews; the Gabriel Award; and the Board of Directors Award from CIMA (Catholics in Media Associates).

Hollywood Priest: The Story of ‘Bud’ Keiser was Produced by Father Tom Gibbons, Vice President of the LA-based Paulist Productions, and Produced by Maria-Elena Poblacion Pineda. The documentary has a running time of 64 minutes.  

"Hollywood Priest: The Story of Father

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Regarding his documentary film Hollywood PriestFather Tom Gibbons says, “We wanted to make a Hollywood film about a religious person, rather than a Religious film about a Hollywood person!”

Father Tom Gibbons was ordained with the Paulist Fathers in 2012 at the Church of Saint Paul the Apostle in New York City. Originally from Northern New Jersey, Father Tom graduated from Loyola University Maryland in 1994. After college, he spent time as a Jesuit Volunteer in Phoenix, AZ, working with immigrants in El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico. Upon returning to Baltimore, he began a career as a graphic designer and web developer, working for such non-profit organizations as Success For All Foundation, Baltimore City Head Start, and Catholic Relief Services.

During his formative years, he wrote a blog entitled “Kicking and Screaming” for, the Paulist online magazine for spiritual seekers. After serving as a deacon at Holy Trinity Parish in Georgetown, Washington, DC, Father Tom was sent to St. Peter’s Church in Toronto, where he first served as Associated Pastor and then as the Parish Administrator. In 2016, he produced a documentary on the founder of the Paulist Fathers, entitled “Isaac Hecker and the Journey of Catholic America” – featuring celebrity voices of Martin Sheen, Matt McCoy, and Bob Gunton.

Father Tom is currently at work on a new documentary investigating the complicated legacy of the Catholic Church in California with the film Junipero Serra: Statue of Limitations, scheduled for release in 2022. In addition to his work as Vice President of Paulist Productions, Father Tom also performs pastoral work at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church and Transfiguration Catholic Church in Los Angeles, CA.

Working on the documentary Hollywood PriestMaria~Elena said, "Father Bud achieved success by ‘thinking outside of the box’ to get his projects off the ground. Because of this, he reached an audience far beyond the pulpit."

A native of Iowa, Maria~Elena graduated from Pepperdine University with a Double Major in Broadcast Communications and Spanish. While still in college, she began her career as a Field Producer for the international news agency, Reuters Television. One of her first assignments with Reuters was covering the World Cup Finals, where she had the honor of interviewing soccer legend Pelé. That led to working for numerous productions including “Day & Date” (CBS), “Access Hollywood” (NBC), “Travel Daily” (Travel Channel/ Discovery Communications), “It’s a Miracle” (Pax Communications), “Snick House” (Nickelodeon), and “Shabby Chic” (Style Channel/ E! Entertainment) and as a Consultant for the Location and Production Services unit at Universal Studios Hollywood.

After working for several media companies, Maria~Elena formed her own production company, Emerging Creation Productions. She made her documentary directorial debut with Through the Lens - The Dream America Tour, the company's first film which she also produced and wrote. She and her crew traveled across the U.S. for 23 consecutive days filming the project. The doc had its world Premiere at DanceswithFilms and screened at additional festivals. 

Maria~Elena's next documentary solves the 50-year mystery of a Korean adoption journey........and the lives that would be transformed forever. She will also be collaborating with Father Tom on the documentary Junipero Serra: Statue of Limitations.

"Hollywood Priest: The Story of Father

Founded by Father “Bud” Kieser in 1968, Paulist Productions was launched in Los Angeles to create thought provoking entertainment that explores the human condition. The company has produced award-winning documentaries, feature films, television series, and TV movies addressing pressing social issues and important moral questions.

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Paulist Productions has provided programming for Paramount, Warner Bros., CBS, ABC, A&E, the History Channel, Hallmark Hall of Fame and UPtv. In a time of rapid change and declining options for family viewing, Paulist Productions is dedicated to developing positive programming with meaningful content. The Humanitas Prize, one of screenwriting’s most prestigious awards, was founded by Paulist Productions.  



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