PBS SoCal and KCET, Southern California’s flagship PBS organizations for new PBS program premieres as well as award-winning, original content, have announced the upcoming world broadcast premiere of a new documentary: "Hollywood Priest: The Story of Father 'Bud' Kieser" 

Produced by Paulist Productions (founded by Kieser), the documentary tells the extraordinary life story, entertainment industry career and national influence of Father Ellwood "Bud" Kieser during the “Golden Age of Television.”

HOLLYWOOD PRIEST: THE STORY OF FATHER ‘BUD’ KIESER premieres on Mon., Aug. 8 at 9 p.m. on PBS SoCal and on Wed., Aug. 10 at 8 p.m. on KCET.

The film recounts the professional arc of the Los Angeles-based Roman Catholic priest and his forty-year career as a television and film producer through interviews with Bob Newhart, Martin Sheen, Tim Matheson, John Amos, Catherine Hicks, Ana Alicia, Marion Ross, Lee Purcell and more. In addition to exploring his career, the documentary also explores his personal life including his relationship with a nun and his search for the meaning of life.

Encouraged by entertainment professionals attending his parish, Kieser found a broader way to reach new audiences as executive producer of the 1960s nationally syndicated television series Insight and the 1989 film Romero that helped launch the careers of many famous actors and gave him the moniker "The Hollywood Priest.” During the course of his long career, he 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 producer, Kieser 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).

A longtime resident of Los Angeles and 44 years as a beloved Priest in the community, Kieser passed away in 2000 at the age of 71. His 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’ KEISER is a recent winner of the 2022 Gabriel Award for “Best Documentary Film of the Year” by the Catholic Media Association and the “Best Documentary Film of the Year” Award from the Catholics in Media Association (CiMA). The film was also selected as part of the 2021 Dances With Films Film Festival and was a featured entry at the October 2021 Newport Beach Film Festival.

The hour-long documentary is produced by Father Tom Gibbons, Vice President of the LA-based Paulist Productions, and Produced by Maria-Elena Poblacion Pineda.

“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 Hamill

Tim Matheson                       Carol Burnett                                       John Ritter

Cecily Tyson                          Rosanna Arquette                           Jane Wyman

Brian Keith                             Marion Ross                          …and many others

Numerous Hollywood notables are interviewed within “Hollywood Priest.” Among them:

“Everybody knew Father Kieser. It was almost the way you pictured a movie - the voice of God. 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.”  BOB NEWHART

(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.” 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.” TIM MATHESON

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

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!” 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. That film was released in 1989.

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. To read more about Father “Bud” Kieser, please CLICK HERE


​Father Tom Gibbons  Regarding his documentary film “Hollywood Priest,” Father 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 BustedHalo.com, 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.

Maria~Elena Poblacion Pineda Working on the documentary “Hollywood Priest,” Maria~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.”

PBS SoCal and KCET are both part of the donor-supported community institution, the Public Media Group of Southern California. PBS SoCal is the flagship PBS station for diverse people across California and delivers content and experiences that inspire, inform and educate. PBS SoCal offers the full slate of beloved PBS programs including MASTERPIECE, NOVA, PBS NewsHour, FRONTLINE, and a broad library of documentary films with works from Ken Burns; as well as educational content including PBS KIDS programs like DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD and CURIOUS GEORGE. KCET showcases the best of PBS and is a leading source for arts, culture, and news in Southern California. Through innovative storytelling, KCET explores and expresses our dynamic local communities helping residents understand and connect with the region's diverse communities and ideas. For additional information about both KCET and PBS SoCal productions, web-exclusive content, programming schedules and community events, please visit kcet.org and pbssocal.org KCET Originals and PBS programming are available to stream on the FREE PBS App on iOS and Android devices, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, and Chromecast. KCET is also available to watch live on YouTube TV. 

Founded by Father Ellwood “Bud” Kieser in 1960, Paulist Productions produces content for film, television, and digital media that advances the conversation between the sacred and the secular.  Throughout its long history, Paulist Productions has provided programming for Paramount, Warner Bros., CBS, ABC, A&E, the History Channel, Hallmark Hall of Fame and UPtv to name a few. The Humanitas Prize, one of screenwriting’s most prestigious awards, was founded by Paulist Productions. Please visit: www.PaulistProductions.org