E-mail to the Cardinal

To: Cardinal Carmerlengo Eduardo Martinez Somalo
From: Rob Johnson of Mark Burnett Productions/VP In Charge Of New Projects
Subject: Pope!

Dear Cardinal Chamberlain:

Thanks for getting back to me. I know how busy you are, what with 200 Cardinals showing up, not to mention 4 million pilgrims. Must be total chaos. Like an Italian family reunion times infinity. Or is it eternity?

First, let me tell you how sorry I am for your loss. Never got to meet J2P2 personally, but I hear he was an absolutely terrific pontiff. Think we can assume someone is taking cuts in the line outside the Pearly Gates.

Still no face time with my Holy Father, Mr. Burnett, (he's shepherding Martha Stewart through the eye of a needle right now) but his personal assistant's intern assures me all your concerns will be addressed.

Our goal is not just to make a lot of money on a successful reality series, but to throw a fresh spin on the best damn religion on the face of the planet. To make the Roman Catholic Church hip again. Islam is hot right now. Why? Been in the news recently. Publicity. That's all. Heat. Juice. Moxie. The introduction of a new pope is the perfect window of opportunity for Catholicism to get a well deserved Extreme Makeover.

Pope! plans to go behind the sacristy to reveal the intrigue and romance that goes into a new pope-picking. But not reveal too much. We know you have secrets. We want to preserve them and exploit them.

A couple of quick questions:
* The silver hammer. Did you really hit J2P2 in the forehead with it to make sure he wasn't sleeping? We need it. For use as a visual bumper along with a musical sting, a la Law & Order. Konk-Konk. Danny Elfman's working on it right now.

* Do the failed candidates get voted out of the conclave? Can they be? Are torches snuffed or staffs clipped? Can they be?

* The ballots--wouldn't the show logo look great on them? Discreet, of course. I see a florid Latin script. Should research Michelangelo's old notebooks; find a proprietary font. You might be able to help out with that on your end.

* Do the cardinals compete in ritual trials like endurance kneeling? Or, who can hear the most confessions in an hour? Host tossing: judged on accuracy and distance? Is that part of the process? Can it be?

* Black & white doesn't read. Would you consider coloring the smoke coming out of the chimney? (FYI: purple and pink tested off the charts)

* Merchandising wants to know: 1.) Before destroying the old dead Pope's Fisherman's Ring, could we make a replica? Very, very, very limited edition. Great premium to hand out to critics before sweeps. 2.) Do the cardinals drink Coke? Is there any rule against it? 3.) Pick-A-Pope Trading Cards--totally out of bounds?

* The network is worried we're testosterone-heavy. Can we throw a nun or two in the mix?

* We need anecdotes. Any famous wacky conclave pranks? You'd think the cardinals must have punked one another during some unenlightened age.

* Understand J2P2 is to be buried beneath the crypt with 147 other popes. We would kill for that footage. Not literally. You know what I mean. But hey, everything is negotiable.

* Da Vinci Code. Understand your reservations, but they did inquire again about a tie in and let me broach this one more time: Spielberg AND Hanks. Talk about infallibility. Still your call.

E-mail me back ASAP. We got ourselves a hook and it's time to hit the lake fishing.

Sincerely yours,

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