Pope Francis Invites Oprah, Ari Emanuel to the Vatican

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The pontiff has shortlisted Hollywood heavy-hitters for a special meeting at the Vatican this fall. The topic? Improving the church's portrayal in Western entertainment.

A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Ari Emanuel might soon get a chance to hug it out with the pope.

Sources say the William Morris Endeavor superagent and his co-CEO Patrick Whitesell are on a shortlist of media players whom reps for Pope Francis have approached for a special meeting at the Vatican this fall.

The pontiff apparently is interested in discussing how the church is perceived by Western media influencers and ways to improve its portrayal in entertainment. The Vatican, which is said to be working with the nonprofit Varkey Foundation, came up with a list of Hollywood players to invite to a summit of sorts. Film and television producer Brian Grazer, OWN mogul Oprah Winfrey, actor Matt Damon and semiretired supermogul David Geffen also scored invites, according to sources.

WME declined to comment on whether Emanuel, the brother of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and the inspiration for Entourage's Ari Gold, would accept the invitation to break bread with the Catholic Church leader.

"The Varkey Foundation has been in discussions with representatives of the Vatican about a potential meeting examining the role of media on the values of young people throughout the world," a foundation spokesperson stated. "Recent media speculation about the purpose and possible participants of such a meeting is inaccurate and premature. The meeting under consideration is emphatically not a discussion about the reputation of the Catholic Church and never has been."

11:00 am, Aug. 6 Updated with Varkey Foundation statement. 

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