Not to invoke the cliché, but you just can't write stuff like this. In the midst of an alleged confession of pedophilia, 7th Heaven pastor/patriarch Stephen Collins plays a pedophile priest in a short film. Did I tell you, or did I tell you? A coincidence this horrific and the accompanying press nightmare would only transpire in real life, or potentially on the worst episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm ever.
The role in question is in a 10-minute short film called Penance. According to the movie's website, the story follows "a man hounded by personal demons and inner turmoil who has lived long enough with the scars of his past." Opposite David Lyons, who plays the man seeking forgiveness, Collins plays the role of a priest who has sexually molested children according to a Page Six report. The short, which has been on the festival circuit for a few months already, was directed by filmmaker Jeff Wolfe. Wolfe relayed to People magazine that the film was made in 2013, far before any of Collins' alleged wrongdoings had come to light, and that the news was a shock to him. He said,
When I cast Stephen Collins, I had no idea there might be a connection between his real life and the part I asked him to play. I found the recent allegations particularly shocking, as my film is meant to speak to victims of abuse and the idea that the effects of abuse never really go away.
Last week, the world was horrified to find that Collins, who played the Reverend Eric Camden for 11 years on 7th Heaven, may potentially be guilty of years of child molestation. In the time since TMZ broke the story with an alleged audio confession, Collins has been fired from Scandal and Ted 2, resigned from the SAG board, and was dropped by his agency representation. Reruns of the beloved family feel-good show have even been pulled amongst the scandal.
Honestly, "PR fiasco" doesn't even begin to describe the scenario of Collins playing, erm, a mash-up of the '90s character that he stole our hearts with and his tarnished real-life persona.