One is best known for playing a kind-hearted angel on a hit television drama. The other is the man behind more than a dozen record-breaking reality shows. But husband and wife Roma Downey (“Touched by an Angel”) and Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Voice”) say their biggest achievement is yet to come — and it offers a stark contrast to the primetime roles that have made them sought-after Hollywood stars.
Called “The Bible” and set to premiere Sunday on the History Channel, their new production is a 10-hour scripted miniseries that aims to take viewers on a dramatic, special effects-filled journey through the world’s most popular book, from the story of Noah’s Ark to the Exodus and the life of Jesus.
“We’re trying to tell the story of God’s love for his people,” said Downey, who plays the role of Mary in the five-episode series.
She and Burnett were inspired after watching “The Ten Commandments,” the famed — but dated — 1956 film by Cecil B. DeMille that makes its rounds in television reruns during major holidays. “We saw this as an opportunity engage people in new and exciting ways to consider these stories and re-experience them,” said Downey, who conceived the project with Burnett nearly four years ago.
Filmed in Morocco and airing over five Sundays through March 31, “The Bible” spans hundreds of years of biblical history, beginning with the sacrifice of Isaac and ending with the meeting between Pontius Pilate and Jesus and Ananias’s baptism of St. Paul. In between, viewers will see Samson destroy the pagan Philistine temple, David fight Goliath, the Baptism of Jesus and Christ walking on water, among other scenes.
Part entertainment, part evangelism, “The Bible” is accompanied by a tremendous commercial push, with trailers in movie theaters and ads across A+E Networks channels, including Lifetime. There are also three books based on the series and a DVD study kit.