March 2, 2013

Mission: Make the Bible 'cool' for TV

'Survivor' producer Mark Burnett teams up with his wife, Roma Downey, to take on 'biblical illiteracy'.

By DAVID BAUDER The Associated Press

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The Bible
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Jesus, portrayed by Diogo Morgado, is baptized by John, played by Daniel Percival, in “The Bible,” a miniseries that debuts Sunday evening on History. The cable production “is an epic tale of adventure,” said Nancy Dubuc, president of the channel.

The Associated Press

The Bible
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Roma Downey portrays Mary, mother of Jesus, in the miniseries. Downey is best known for her role in the popular television series “Touched By an Angel.”

The Associated Press

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Except for Downey, few of the actors involved are well known in the United States. Portuguese TV star Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus Christ, and many of the other lead actors are based in Britain.

The television airing of "The Bible" on History is only the beginning for this project. Lifetime will air a repeat each week after a new episode appears on History. It will air internationally, and a DVD package will go on sale this spring. The series' scripts are bound together into a book. Producers will make a theatrical release movie of a portion of the story, and are looking at showing it in stadiums this fall. Burnett and Downey have also reached a deal to make parts of the film available as part of a religious education curriculum for churches.

"More people will watch this than any of our other series combined over the next three decades," Burnett said.

Even better, their marriage survived the grueling process intact -- even stronger, Downey said.

"Nobody has taken on the broad vision from Genesis to Revelation, and I think we probably realized at midpoint why no one had done it before," she said. "It was maddeningly complicated and extraordinarily hard work. We approached it humbly, but we were exhilarated by it."


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The Bible
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Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus in a scene from “The Bible,” which premieres Sunday on the History channel.

The Associated Press


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