from Film Forum, 03/11/04

The Bible does not say much about Judas. We know he was the treasurer for Jesus and his disciples, a job that was notably not given to the former tax collector Matthew. We know that he took money from that collection for his own use. And, of course, the love of money eventually overpowered his love of Jesus, and he sold his master for thirty pieces of silver. Overcome with shame, he hung himself soon after that.

But why did he betray Jesus? Why was he the one at the table willing to make such a decisive act against the one he had followed? Monday night's ABC-TV movie Judas explored what might have been the case.

The movie has been sitting on the shelf since 2001, and suddenly ABC programmers have decided that this is the right time to broadcast it. Why now? Hmmm … could it be … The Passion of The Christ? Yes, director Charles Carner told Christianity Today Movies. As Mel Gibson's blockbuster Jesus film continues to earn a place in box office history, people continue to talk about what they like and what they dislike about the film. So ABC cleverly delivered the film right in the heat of Jesus fever.

The movie starred Johnathon Schaech (That Thing You Do) as the "great betrayer," Jonathan Scarfe as Jesus, Tim Matheson (Animal House) as Pontius Pilate, and Bob Gunton (The Shawshank Redemption) as Caiaphas. Written by Tom Fontana (Oz, Homicide: Life on the Street), the movie represents the last production of the late Father Ellwood "Bud" Kieser, C.S.P., founder of the Humanitas Prize and Paulist Productions.

For the record, the TV movie was passed over by most viewers, who gave the highest ratings for the evening to reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond, Two and a Half Men, and C.S.I. Miami.

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