Sylvester Stallone: Armando Gallo/Retna
Lynette Rice
May 27, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

If all else fails, blame the Church. That’s what Sylvester Stallone did when CBS didn’t pick up ”Lefty,” the television drama he exec-produced starring ”Titanic”’s Danny Nucci as a tough-talking priest. Stallone believes the Catholic Church’s current troubles led the Eye to pass on the pilot. ”Danny was fantastic,” says Stallone. ”And to come out with a show about priests at this particular time…I think people are waiting for something to help them exhale.”

Stallone’s the one who needs to take a breather, says one source close to the negotiations. It wasn’t the priest-pedophilia scandal but ”Lefty”’s soft, ”Touched by an Angel” sensibility that prompted CBS to reject it in favor of sharper fare like ”Without a Trace,” a missing-persons drama with Anthony LaPaglia, and the cop-themed ”RHD/LA,” which stars Tom Sizemore and is exec-produced by ”Heat”’s Michael Mann. Says the source, ”The network wants to go in a certain direction, with younger-skewing, harder-edged shows with an urban feel.”

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