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"Holy Joe" a Tar Heel Production

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WILMINGTON — Following a slack period, movie and TV production in North Carolina is picking up. Sunday night's CBS movie, "Holy Joe", was shot last summer in Wilmington and Winston-Salem.

"Holy Joe" stars John Ritter.

The hot summer during which it was shot was made even hotter because some of the scenes are about a fire -- a turning point in the movie.

Makeup and wardrobe artists swarmed over star John Ritter, as cameras are readied to shoot a sequence of scenes.

"Holy Joe" could have been shot almost anywhere, but producers chose North Carolina.

"It's really any mythical American Main Street town, about an average American guy and we could find that here in Wilmington," said Adam Peck, one of the movie's executive producers.

Ritter plays Father Joe Vass, a priest experiencing a crisis of faith. Father Joe also serves as a volunteer fireman.

Gary Basaraba plays Ernie, a man of questionable character but at peace with himself.

"He knows the grace that faith gives one and he understands the peril that Joe is in," Basaraba says.

Time to roll cameras. Special effects crews have turned the country building into an inferno.

Is this an epiphanal turn for Joe, this fire? He just barely makes it out alive. But there's a little boy inside who he adores he wants to go save and he knows he's going to die. Then something happens. "Something happens inside, something that possibly might be considered by many as a miracle," said Ritter.

"Holy Joe" aired Sunday night on WRAL-TV5.