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Feb28ThuIn The Bible, an ambitious new television series gives a fresh take on the sacred text to a new generation. February 28, 2013 by Ken Ramstead
"Roma, you're crazy!” Television producer Mark Burnett (Survivor, Celebrity Apprentice, The Voice) couldn't believe what his wife, actress Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel), was proposing. She was incensed that yet another new documentary was airing that radically departed from the image of the loving God that she had grown up with. What Roma was suggesting now was a television series on the Bible, “a real version of God's love for all of us.”
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- Faith & Friends
“Roma,” replied Mark, “I know the idea is great and I know why we should do it, but it's crazy. It's too big, it's too ambitious. Who am I? Cecil B. DeMille?”
“Maybe,” Roma smiled.
The exchange got Mark to thinking. He had recently watched DeMille's 1956 movie The Ten Commandments for the first time since he was a kid in the 1960s. He remembers then being awestruck by the visual effects. “What you can do now for television budgets with computer-generated images (CGI) would only have been possible in the most expensive feature film just a few years ago,” he explains. “We can bring fresh visual life o the sacred stories.”
The result of their efforts, The Bible: A Story of God and All of Us, will be seen on television screens in March.
Foundation of Faith
The ambitious five-part 10-hour series will initially air on the History Channel and will selectively cover the Bible from the Book of Genesis to Revelation.
With only 10 hours, Mark and Roma had to use a broad brush—“It's the greatest hits, right?” laughs Mark—but there is a logical progression to the coverage, with half the series being devoted to the Old Testament, half to the New Testament. Among the stories covered will be Noah's Ark, the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and the reign of King David, as well as the story of Jesus' birth, Crucifixion and Resurrection.
The series was filmed in Morocco over six months, using CGI and an international cast—Roma herself plays Mary, the mother of Jesus. More than 40 theologians, advisors, researchers and writers worked on the project. A companion volume based on the scripts will be released to supplement the series.
“I believe viewers who know the Bible will reconnect with our visual presentation, but I also think that people who have never read the Bible will be intrigued by these epic stories,” says Mark. “These stories are the foundation, not only of faith, but of our society, our laws. They're the very foundation of what our Western civilization stands for. We are giving fresh visual life to our sacred stories. The Bible is a book that changes people's lives, and the series will have the potential to do that as well.
“I think Roma and I have done a lot of good work in our lives,” concludes Mark, “but this is the best work of our lives."