Wall Street Journal
August 17, 2012
By Alexandra Cheney
MALIBU, CALIF. – The king of reality television, Mark Burnett, is taking on God and the Bible. Specifically focusing on Genesis through Revelation, Burnett is working in conjunction with The History Channel to create a 10-hour scripted drama using live-action and computer generated imagery.
“This project is, in every sense of the word, epic,” said Burnett.
Although the biblical series won’t appear on The History Channel’s schedule until March 2013, it is already slated to air in five-parts.
“160 million people go to church and talk about the Bible, but I want to really look at what’s in it,” said Burnett.
The executive producer developed the series with his wife, Roma Downey, who will also star as the Virgin Mary. Although they are still casting, Burnett told the Journal that he’s culling actors from “Game of Thrones,” “Sex and the City” and “The Borgias.”
This is not the first time the History Channel has put forth a religious series. Last year, the network featured “The Real Face of Jesus?”, a documentary that followed graphic experts as they recreated Jesus’ face using technology and the Shroud of Turin, a holy relic.
Burnett has an impressive track record with reality television, executive producing “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” “Shark Tank,” and “The Apprentice,” not to mention “The Voice” and “Survivor.”
To bring the Bible series to air, Burnett is reuniting with Nancy Dubuc, History’s president and general manager. The pair worked on “Expedition Africa,” the 2009 Emmy nominated History Channel series that followed Henry Morton Stanley’s search for Dr. David Livingstone. It was canceled after one season.
But that hiccup didn’t seem to phase Burnett when he spoke to the Journal at his house in Malibu.
“Without the bible many of our epic movies would not exist,” said Burnett, who was largely inspired by the Cecil B. DeMille version of “The Ten Commandments.” “I want to push television further, do more. Why not start with the most debated book of all time?”