By Ben Kayser, Contributing Writer
At Variety’s Family Entertainment and Faith-Based Summit recently, Emmy Award winning Producer Mark Burnett of SURVIVOR flew into Hollywood from Madagascar to share a snippet of his new 10-hour miniseries THE BIBLE.
Besides SURVIVOR, Burnett is best known for producing the TV shows THE VOICE and THE APPRENTICE. For the past two years, however, Burnett and his wife Roma Downey of TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL have been working with the History channel to produce a 10-hour mini-series drama based on the stories in the Bible. As a kid, Burnett remembers seeing Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 classic THE TEN COMMANDMENTS and being thrilled by its spectacles. Now, he has the opportunity to provide the same inspiration for others through his series. The series will retell stories from Noah and the ark, to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
At the Variety summit, Burnett retold some of the stories that will be featured in the show. A Christian himself, Burnett’s passion for Scripture and talent in storytelling was clearly evident as he recounted the story of Zedekiah. The crowd of about 300 people consisted of creative artists, business executives and journalists, and they all seemed to hang on his every word as he spoke. He could have spoken on the production or business side of the miniseries, and that would have been beneficial in its own way, but he wanted to convey what the series was really about – faith and love.
Burnett, who grew up with a knowledge of Scripture, said, “People apply personal meanings to the Bible. Our job is to tell the stories in an emotionally connected way.” He hopes to create an experience that will inspire many generations to come.
According to Nancy Dubuc, president of the History Channel, a group of scholars and theologians were brought together to consult on the project’s accuracy regarding the historical accounts.
“This is probably the most important book in mankind, regardless of your beliefs or religious affiliation,” Dubuc says. “We spend a lot of time talking about this book, and probably not enough time knowing what’s in it.”
Even though a lot of it will be live action, they will also heavily rely on visual effects and CGI to help tell the stories.
“We will be less reliant on the spoken word and more on visual storytelling,” Dubuc says.
Much of the production took place in Morocco and the Middle East, using some of the same locations as the movies GLADIATOR and KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Though the budget of the series has not been revealed, Burnett says it’s not his most expensive project. Production is supposed to be finished summer of 2012 with plans to air it on the History Channel in spring 2013.
Check back with MOVIEGUIDE® in 2013 to get our take on the miniseries THE BIBLE.