Exclusive: NATPE 2011: Debmar, Fox to Test 'Father Albert' This Summer

Complete Coverage: NATPE 2011

Debmar-Mercury this summer will partner with Fox Television Stations to test a one-hour talker featuring Father Alberto Cutie, a headline-making former priest who departed the Catholic Church after he fell in love with the woman who is now his wife and mother of his child.

"Father Albert's wide cross-over appeal, incredible story, encouraging advice, open mind and charismatic personality make him a natural fit for daytime television. We are excited to provide English-language audiences with the opportunity to discover why Father Albert has struck such a chord over the past decade with millions of fans throughout the U.S., Canada, Spain and Latin America," said Debmar-Mercury Co-Presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein in a statement.

"This really completes our roster with Debmar-Mercury: Tyler Perry, Wendy Williams, South Park, Jeremy Kyle and, now, a minister. Seriously, daytime television could use a fresh face and a distinctive voice. We believe we've found one in Father Albert Cutie, whose unique perspective makes him perfect for this role," said Frank Cicha, senior vice president of programming for Fox Television Group in a statement.

Father Albert is the latest test from Debmar-Mercury, who ran a three-week talk-show test with Fran Drescher in December. Debmar-Mercury and Fox decided that show was not a keeper, but Marcus continues to believe strongly in testing new programs, as he attested on a panel at NATPE on Monday afternoon.

While Father Albert is perhaps best known in the U.S. for his love life, he's gained worldwide recognition as the first priest to host a secular daytime talk show. Padre Alberto ran on Telemundo in 1999. Three years later, Telemundo International featured Cutie in a weekly talk show called America en Vivo. He's also worked on Spanish-language network EWTN, which airs in the U.S., Latin America, Canada and Spain.

His self-help book, "Real Life, Real Love," became a Spanish-language market best-seller in 2006 and earned him the nickname "Father Oprah." He published a second book, "Dilemma: A Priest's Struggle with Faith and Love" this month.

Cutie is now married to Ruhama, whom he wed in the Espiscopal Church, in which Cutie is now a priest. The couple had a daughter, Victoria, in December. The priest, author and talk-show host was at NATPE on Tuesday morning to meet prospective clients and reporters.

Paige Albiniak

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.