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Mark Burnett and Roma Downey — the new It Couple of TV Miniseries/Event Series — have landed CBS‘ first announced project from its new limited series and event programming unit. And yes, it’s an historical series with religious overtones. The Dovekeepers is a four-hour miniseries based in Alice Hoffman’s historical novel about the Siege of Masada, and it will air on CBS in 2015. The mini will focus on “four extraordinary women whoselives intersect in a fight for survival at the siege of Masada,” the network said. Masada is the mountaintop fortress near the Dead Sea where the Romans found the last pocket of resistance after they conquered Jerusalem in 70 CE.

CBS, in its announcement, noted The Dovekeepers hails from the team behind the Emmy-nominated 10-hour miniseries The Bible, which scored big ratings for History in March, ranking as the top cable entertainment telecast of the year to date and helping make History the No. 1-ranked cable network for that month. The Bible opened with 13 million tuned in — which, CBS execs no doubt noted at the time, is about as many people as watched the opening of their Stephen King project Under The Dome (before factoring in DVR viewing on subsequent days) last summer. In its first week of home video release, The Biblewas the top-selling miniseries of all time and the No. 1 ranked TV series on DVD and Blu-ray over the past five years — surpassing 1 million units sold in the past three months. It also spawned a feature film version to be released by Fox in February (check out that trailer here). In addition to its broadcast on CBS, The Dovekeepers will be distributed to countries around the world by CBS Studios International.

In this morning’s announcement, CBS Entertainment chief Nina Tassler  notedThe Dovekeepers is “a compelling, beautifully written novel that combines history and fiction, ” adding, “Mark and Roma possess an amazing passion for telling biblical stories and for producing entertaining television on an event scale.”

It’s conceivable that, with a broadcast platform, The Dovekeepers (and The Biblesequel that NBC bought in July) could  attract an even bigger crowd. Heck, ABC’s bazillionth broadcast of the 1956 Charlton Heston/Cecil B. DeMille Old Testament extravaganza The Ten Commandments still manages to pop about 6 million viewers every year. Unclear whether it’ll clock as big an audience as did NBC’s live remake of The Sound Of Music last week, which logged nearly 19 million viewers in its premiere.

Burnett gained press attention for his unusual marketing campaign on The Bible,which included screenings at mega-churches. TV critics, on the other hand, gave it a cold shoulder, calling it more action flick than spiritual journey like they meant it to sting. Burnett told CBS Sunday Morning, back around the time it launched that TV critics didn’t matter on this one. “If the TV critics were so good, they’d be making TV themselves, wouldn’t they?” (Sound Of Music star Carrie Underwood took a different tack with bad reviews, tweeting that “mean people need Jesus”.)

In that interview, Burnett said making The Bible was a “spiritual,” not a commercial, calling, and has been for him “such a growth, and maybe that’s the biggest blessing of all.” It’s also was a great way to resurrect wife Roma Downey’s career — the former Touched By An Angel star played Mary. Downey has said in interviews that the idea for that miniseries was “God’s idea placed in my heart.” No word in re whether Downey will play one of the female leads in The Dovekeepers.

“This novel is a testament to the human spirit and how love can rise from the ashes of war. It is, quite simply, an amazing story of heroism and hope, and a story that must be seen not just with the eyes but felt with the heart,” she said in today’s announcement.

“I am thrilled that my novel The Dovekeepers, produced by Roma Downey, who I so admire for her vision and strong commitment to the stories of women of the ancient world, will be at CBS with Nina Tassler, who is dedicated to storytelling at the highest level,” added Hoffman, who will also serve as a consultant on the miniseries. The Dovekeepers is a co-production between CBS Television Studios and LightWorkers Media. Downey and Burnett are executive producers. The CBS executive overseeing production is VP Limited Series & Event Programming Stacey Mandelberg. LightWorkers Media is repped by WME.

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Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have struck a distribution pact with 20th Century Fox for a feature film, “Son of God,” derived from the pair’s 10-hour miniseries “The Bible.”

Pic will focus on the story of Jesus, played by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado, from his birth through the Resurrection. The movie is distilled from the Emmy-nominated mini that aired in March on History and augmented with scenes not featured in the telecast. “Bible” aired in the U.S. to an average of 15 million-plus viewers for its five two-hour installments; it’s now rolling out to big auds in overseas markets.

The studio is still working out a release date for next year. The sides are also hammering out the international distrib components of the pact.

Fox sees the project as a chance to nab a proven property that will be a big draw with faith-motivated auds but also has the ability to pull in other adult demos. The studio was the natural home for “Son of God” as Fox Home Entertainment is already handling the homevid distribution of the miniseries. “Bible” has moved more than 1 million units since its April release and ranks as the top-selling TV-to-disc title of the past two years, per Fox.

“We’ve had the good fortune to work with (Fox topper) Jim Gianopulos and his team for the past year on ‘The Bible’ (homevid),” said Burnett. “While we appreciated the interest from other distributors, Fox was the right choice for us. This movie deserves a big studio behind it. We have crafted a powerful standalone movie that is a completely emotional, uplifting experience for audiences.”

“Son of God” runs two hours and 15 minutes and is a complete re-edit of the Jesus storyline from the mini. Fox Home Entertainment will also distrib a homevid release of the film edit.

The notion of pulling a theatrical release out of a miniseries is a characteristically convention-defying move from Burnett, the mastermind of “The Voice,” “Survivor,” “The Apprentice” and other unscripted primetime hits. Burnett and Downey own “Bible” franchise outright, having secured independent financing through their Lightworkers Media banner for the production of the miniseries. Early on the pair had the idea that a feature film focused on the Jesus story could be culled from the larger story arc of the mini.

Burnett and Downey tapped former Fox and Revolution Studios exec Tom Sherak to help broker the feature distribution deal. There were multiple suitors for “Son of God” that offered bids during the past few weeks. The Fox agreement was set Wednesday evening by Sherak, Brian Edwards, COO of Burnett’s One Three Media banner, and Gianopulos.

The film release promises to add another large dimension to a project that has been embraced by a range of faith leaders — whose endorsements undoubtedly helped boost viewership for the mini. “Son of God” has clear potential to reach the kind of auds that rarely hit the multiplexes for other Hollywood fare. But the miniseries’ ratings proved that it also had mainstream appeal.

“Bible” has been a four-year odyssey for Burnett and Downey. The married couple spearheaded the writing and production of the mini, most of which was shot on location in Morocco. Downey also costars as Mary.

The pair are working on a followup, “AD: Beyond the Bible,” as a regular series for NBC.

Cathonline

My wife, Roma Downey (you might know her from the role of Monica on the TV show Touched by an Angel), and I were having dinner. And Roma mentioned a documentary someone was doing on the Bible. Roma thought the documentary focused too much on showing that God was harsh and unloving. It used examples like the millions drowned in the Genesis Flood and God’s demand of Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. She asked me, “Why wouldn’t they tell the true story of a loving God with a plan for all humanity? A God who sent his only Son to die for us all?”

Then she spoke in that quiet, persuasive voice of hers, the one that Americans came to know so well from hearing it every Sunday night for over a decade. “Mark, we should do this. We should make a TV series on the Bible. Not unconnected Bible stories, but the overarching, sweeping, loving narrative. A dramatic rendition that goes from Genesis to Revelation. We could tell that story in five two-hour episodes. We could bring it to life.” I stared at her. It was an incredibly ambitious idea, and it’s not like we weren’t busy enough, raising three teenagers, and also producing some of the most demanding shows on TV (including The Voice andSurvivor).

“How can we possibly take this on, and how can we tell this story in only ten television hours?” I asked, shaking my head. “Think about it, Mark,” she said. “The Bible story is all the things that great television should be. It has adventure, it has drama and it has redemption.” I do some of my best praying when I’m riding my bike on the country roads near our home, and clearly this was something to pray about. Pumping up the hills, watching the sun break through the fog, I kept talking to God and listening for answers.

All I could come up with were reasons why I was wrong for this project. I’m a producer, not a theologian. My biblical knowledge was pretty good (generally) and dates back to my childhood in England, from Sunday school and academic studies, and from rereading Scripture as an adult. This project, I was convinced, would require a deeper knowledge. It would require a serious time commitment and building a huge advisory team. The biggest question was, would a channel actually green-light this? Today’s kids probably know more about Batman and Robin than about David and Goliath, and more about the Matrix than about Daniel’s prophecies. They get their stories from the screen.

But that was it! Doing this “on the screen” would allow millions of people to discover the Bible. We knew we couldn’t teach it, but we could create an emotionally connecting dramatization that might make them open (or reopen) the Book. We also knew that with today’s amazing technology, we could do a much better burning bush or parting of the Red Sea, even with a TV budget, than has been done before. I considered my own career. My first job in Hollywood after leaving the Army was as a babysitter. I’d had no inkling I’d ever become a producer, but that is the essence of America—a nation that provides opportunities. All you have to do is go for it. I knew it was time to go for it again. This time it would be with a project that gave back to God for all my many blessings.

I believe that God calls those with the right skills at the right time. Could it be that everything I’d learned about producing TV shows would culminate in this one massive project? It felt like a call. I couldn’t get it out of my head, as though the Holy Spirit was saying, “Yes, Mark, yes.” One morning I came back from my bike ride, kissed Roma and said, “Let’s do it.”

We never looked back. I’d always loved the Bible, but making a TV series out of it only made me love it more. You see, we just had to trust the story. The story was everything, from Noah in his ark to Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, from Saul’s paranoia to David’s weakness, from Daniel in the lion’s den to the gift God gave to us of his only son, Jesus. His Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension. We put together an incredible team for the series—highly experienced producers and writers—and when they started adapting the text, the story swept them up, its power and its drama irresistible. A film can make visual connections that dramatize a narrative. We asked ourselves, “Where was Sarah, and what was she doing when Abraham took their son up the mountain to be sacrificed?” We would show her being left behind and slowly figuring out exactly what Abraham was planning, show her anguish, her fear and, finally, her overwhelming relief and trust in God’s goodness.

And in showing the moment when Nicodemus visits Jesus in the middle of the night, we chose to intercut this story with the nighttime moment when Judas goes to Caiaphas. One discovering what it means to be reborn, the other resolving to betray his savior. The biggest challenge would be finding the right actors for the cast, especially the role of Jesus. “He’s got to look strong, like a carpenter,” I told Roma. “He is described as ‘meek,’ but meek is not weak. Jesus needs to be shown with the human strength of a manual worker but with the compassion and love of a savior.”

“Yes,” Roma agreed. “The Lion and the Lamb.” We auditioned hundreds of actors, checked videos, talked to agents, casting directors, friends. We chose some of the finest classical actors, who could bring life to lines from ancient Scripture. Our Goliath was so big he needed two seats on the flight to Morocco, where we shot the series. A few weeks before filming, though, we still hadn’t found the right actor to play Jesus. “We’ll pray,” Roma said. She sent an urgent prayer request to her support network. The word spread. In Morocco one of our crew members heard of our need and remembered a Portuguese actor who’d made a previous film in Morocco and who looked the part.

The trouble was, nobody could remember his name, only that he’d stayed at the Berbere Palace Hotel. They combed through the registry and finally found his name, Diogo Morgado. From California we called his agent in London. “I’m so sorry,” the agent said, thinking we were in London too. “Diogo’s not in town.” “Where is he?” we asked. “He is in Los Angeles.” The next morning, we looked out our front window and saw a strapping, six-foot-two-inch young man with long hair, clear eyes and a long stride walking up our pathway. Strong and humble. At long last we had found the perfect actor to play Jesus. We had five months to film, five months of constantly overcoming challenges. Filming the Crucifixion was emotionally overwhelming. Our entire crew, believer and nonbeliever alike, felt the pain of it all.

One of the choices we made was not just to show Jesus’ solitary suffering but to also show the anguish of his followers, especially Mary, played by Roma. The intensity of a mother seeing her own flesh and blood suffer and die was both exhausting and deeply moving. We neared the end of our five months of filming, and by some odd set of circumstances, on the very last day of shooting it turned out that we were working in two different locations, filming both the beginning and the end of the Bible: Genesis and Revelation. I was supervising the shoot of Adam’s creation, and an hour and a half away, Roma was with the crew that was filming John writing his Revelation on Patmos. It was as though the alpha and the omega were happening at once, the beginning and the en

We shot Eve eating the forbidden fruit and Adam emerging from the earth. He rose from the dust, the first human being, God’s greatest creation. We did several takes and it looked amazing. Then I checked my watch. I wanted to try to be with Roma at the final shot of what had been an arduous five months. She had remained in Morocco the entire time and I had commuted back and forth to Los Angeles to shoot The Voice every few weeks, and I so wanted us to be together at the wrap of the show. Could I make it to the other location before they finished? Was there time? We radioed Roma’s team. They were still at it. But the light was fading. I got in a Jeep and we rode across the desert, chasing the sunset. I got there just as they were about to shoot the final take. I watched, and then Roma and I fell into each other’s arms. Wow. It was done. Something that seemed impossible was now in the can. There was still much more to accomplish— the editing, the music, the narration, sound effects, special effects. Yet we knew it was all going to get accomplished. God’s hands were on this series—we would tell the world’s most powerful story with the greatest emotional connection possible. For that is what the Bible is, a story, the story of God’s love for his people, the greatest love story ever told.

Cathonline

Roma Downey’s LightWorkers Media banner has acquired the rights toAlice Hoffman’s 2011 novel “The Dovekeepers” with an eye toward adapting it as a miniseries.

“Dovekeepers” is set in ancient Israel and centers on a small Jewish settlement on the plateau of Masada, where several hundred people have taken refuge after being violently driven from Jerusalem.

“When I first read the book I fell totally in love with the story of Masada and with these characters,” said Downey, who described the project as “perfect” for her shingle since it emphasizes hope and uplifting values. “This novel is a testament to the human spirit and how love can rise from the ashes of war.”

Downey, who starred in “Touched by an Angel,” recently debuted miniseries “The Bible” on History with husband and fellow exec producer Mark Burnett. LightWorkers media produced “The Bible.” The husband-wife duo has set a followup series, “AD: Beyond the Bible,” set up at NBC, and last week LIghtWorkers set a deal with 20th Century Fox to distribute a feature film, “Son of God,” derived from the Jesus story in “Bible” next year.

Cathonline

Since its premiere in March 2013, 100 million people—including Oprah—have watched The Bible, a miniseries produced by the husband-and-wife team of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. What does the success of this series say about our culture? Watch as Roma shares what she believes viewers are yearning for. Plus, Mark and Roma discuss the show's primetime rival, AMC'sThe Walking Dead.

Cathonline

Come March 2014, American fans of the hit "Bible" television series will be able to swap their living room couches for concert seats. Following next year's release of "Son of God," a 16-city music tour based on themes from the show and movie will kick off.

Featuring Christian recording artists such as Natalie Grant, Francesca Battistelli and Sidewalk Prophets, The Bible 2014 Tour will open at Saddleback Church in California on March 20, and feature songs and imagery inspired by the mini-series and movie. Many of the show's almost month-long tour stops will be held at churches.

Roma Downey, one half of husband-wife executive producing team behind "The Bible" franchise, said that she expects the production to be a powerful experience for attendees.

"I think that music just has such a wonderful ability to connect and open your heart and the images from our film certainly are going to touch your heart," Downey told The Associated Press. "So I think it's just going to be a really beautiful, heartfelt experience all around for people to attend."

Downey and husband, co-producer Mark Burnett, credited Saddleback Church's pastor Rick Warren for giving them the advice that made their "Bible" project a reality.

"Rick Warren said to me and Roma, 'You know one of the most dangerous prayers that you can pray is, 'Use me,' because he will,'" Burnett told the Associated Press.

"And we can see how that played out in our lives. We've been working for God ever since," Downey added.

"Son of God," which will be released on Feb. 28, is currently screening with religious and business leaders. A trailer for the film, which includes new scenes and footage from the miniseries, is set to hit theaters this week.

The History Channel mini-series averaged 11.7 million viewers, pulling in roughly 13.1 million viewers when it premiered in March 2013. It is currently playing in Hong Kong and will soon debut in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where the Irish Downey and British Burnett are from.

Cathonline

When you play an angel on television you’re often mistaken for one. I should know. For nine years and some 212 episodes, I was Monica on Touched by an Angel. Again and again people would stop me on the street and say, “You’re that angel!” “No,” I wanted to correct them, “I’m an actress who plays an angel.” I loved the role of Monica, but I didn’t want anyone to be confused about who I really was, an Irish girl from Derry. A girl who dreamed of being an artist. But what kind of artist? I loved to paint and draw and there was inspiration all around in the ever-changing sky and sea of Northern Ireland, turbulent gray, deep blue, turquoise, celadon...I wanted to capture all the drama with my brush. I was the youngest of six. My mother died when I was only 10 and our father raised us. He was a schoolmaster, a reader and lover of poetry. Small and white-haired, he looked older than he was. One day he came to pick me up at school and a classmate asked if that old man was my grandfather. “I don’t know who he is,” I said, embarrassed. Later I found my father and confessed what I’d said. I burst into tears, I was so deeply ashamed.

“Did you say that because of my white hair?” Dad asked. I nodded sheepishly. “Don’t worry darlin’.” Then he hugged me. “It’s only hair. At least I’ve got some left!” Dad led us in prayers every night around the dinner table. He always stressed that it was how we showed our faith that mattered. “Kindness is everything,” he said. We were expected to reach out to others, whether it was reading to someone with failing eyesight, helping an elderly friend with errands or bringing soup to an ailing neighbor. We didn’t own a car and certainly didn’t have luxuries like a dryer. Yet we were rich—and certainly richly blessed—as long as we could give. Those were the times of “the troubles” in the North. Gun battles and bomb scares were all too common. Sirens wailed. Soldiers patrolled the streets. Several times we had to evacuate my school. Once we had to duck behind cars to avoid flying bullets. (It was years before I could hear a loud noise like a slamming door without diving for cover.) Dad made our home a refuge, a place of peace and protection. He knew I aspired to be an artist. “If this is your dream, Roma, then you should go to the very best college of art.” The very best would take me far away. Sure enough I was accepted to an excellent school in England.

I dreaded leaving home. I wouldn’t see my father for months at a time. I didn’t know if I could accept that. Dad was all I had. One night I came to him teary-eyed. “Dad, I’m going to miss you so much,” I sobbed. He took my hand and led me outside to our garden. A full moon bathed the grass and bushes in silver. “Look to the moon,” he said. “Wherever you go, this same moon will be shining on you and on me. I will leave a message for you there. When you miss me, just look at the moon and you will see how much I love you.” Sure enough I was dreadfully homesick in England. One night I was carrying groceries back to my boarding house and a passing car backfired. I immediately hit the ground, apples and cans rolling out of my bag. People stared at me as though I had lost my mind. You’re far from the troubles, I told myself, but my spirit was unsettled. I longed for the sea and the sky of Ireland and the reassuring sound of Dad’s prayers. I wasn’t even sure anymore that art school was the right choice. Lately I’d been thinking of other ways to express myself. Then I looked up. The moon had slipped out from behind a cloud, its brightness three dimensional. My father’s message was etched in the heavens: “I love you, Roma. I love you.” I could always find comfort there. One day I read a line by Van Gogh that spoke to me. “I no longer wanted to be the painter,” he’d said. “I wanted to be the paint.” A light came on inside me. Acting seemed closer to being the paint for me.

With my father’s blessing I transferred to acting school. I hoped to use my skills to tell moving stories, appearing in roles that would make my father proud. The training was thrilling, but did I have the will or stamina for the challenges of an acting career. I’ll talk to Dad about this, I thought. Soon we’d have a break and I’d see him. The night before I left I called him from the pay phone in the hallway of my boarding house. “I’ll be home tomorrow,” I said. “I’m getting your room ready, darlin’,” he said. “I’ve put out your favorite sheets. The yellow flannel.” Everything holds the dampness in Northern Ireland and I knew he’d hung them on the kitchen clothesline to air. Early the next morning the ringing of the pay phone woke me up. I put on my robe and dashed to it. It was my brother and he had terrible news. My father had a massive heart attack during the night. He was dead. It seemed so cruel and impossible. Lord, how could this happen? I demanded. I flew home in a daze. I trudged up our front steps. One of my sisters greeted me at the door. My father was laid out in the sitting room, as was our Irish custom, but I wasn’t ready to go in there. “Come into the kitchen for a cup of tea,” my sister said. I followed her to the back of the house. There, next to the stove, were my yellow flannel sheets, hung out to air, just as Dad had left them. “We should take these down,” my sister said. “No, please don’t.” I held the flannel to my cheek. So soft and warm, my father’s last message of love. “Lord, help me accept this,” I whispered. My father would not have wanted me to give up on my dreams, and certainly not because of him. I returned to London, finished my studies and then threw myself into acting. My work took me from England to the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, to New York’s Broadway and eventually Los Angeles. Far-flung places where I could still look to the moon and feel my father’s love with me, and hear him say that we must always be kind.

One day in Hollywood I was asked to audition for an unusual TV pilot about two angels. I liked the script and assumed I needed to do the part in an American accent. “Wait,” someone said at the audition, “aren’t you from overseas?” “Yes,” I said. “I’m Irish.” I was worried my accent was too exotic. “Do it Irish,” they said. And so I did. It worked. I was cast as the angel Monica. My father would have loved Touched by an Angel. All those acts of kindness, all those answered prayers. The people on the show were wonderful, especially my costar and fellow angel Della Reese, whose wisdom I came to rely on. We were flooded with letters from viewers and I got invitations to visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools. I got to put my faith in action, just as Dad had taught. More and more it felt like he was still with me. Still, I was shocked when people wanted to believe I really was an angel.
One day I visited the children’s ward at a hospital. A woman came out of her daughter’s room, obviously grief-stricken. She looked at me in tearful amazement. “Monica!” she said. “I prayed for an angel and you’re here.” She threw her arms around me. “At last you’re here.” “Yes,” I murmured, not sure how to handle this. I prayed with her, of course, and tried to comfort her as best I could. But I was unsettled by it all. I called Della and told her the story. “Don’t be upset, baby,” she said. “You were there for her.” “I feel bad. This woman asked God for an angel and she thought he sent me. ”Della paused and then said, “And who says he didn’t?” Indeed. God could do anything. God could send me places and give me roles I never expected. I had to step aside and let his grace flow through me.

I’m not an angel. I’m just a human being. But if the moon can hold a message of love for a homesick daughter, then anybody can be an angel delivering comfort in a time of need. Kindness is everything, just as my father had said all along.

Watch and listen as Roma discusses the inspiration for her new project, Little Angels.

Cathonline

The first production to come from LightWorkers Media, the production banner that Roma Downey and Mark Burnett run together, was an animated DVD series, “Little Angels.” The second project to come through LightWorkers, which is separate from Burnett’s One Three Media, was considerably bigger, with a capital B.

SEE MORE: From the September 17, 2013 issue of Variety

Producing the 10-hour “Bible” miniseries was a challenging project for all involved, from setting the script with the guidance of more than 40 scholars and faith leaders to a grueling five-month shoot in Morocco last year.

“In the journey of our marriage, to say there were times when this has been stressful would be an understatement,” Downey says.

But they also complemented each other by bringing different skills sets to the table. Burnett’s background as a swashbuckling reality TV producer came in handy during remote location shoots. Downey’s experience as an actress and producer of TV movies helped her shape the on-camera experience for “Bible” thesps.

“I don’t know that one of us could have done it without the other,” she said.

LightWorkers is now working on a “Bible” follow-up for NBC that is envisioned as a regular historical series, “AD: Beyond the Bible.” Downey is closely involved in guiding the development of those scripts. She’s also recently optioned the rights to Alice Hoffman’s 2011 novel “The Dovekeepers” to develop as a miniseries.

“The intention behind LightWorkers is not solely to do faith-based productions, but we do have a bias toward the family and stories that shine a real light of positivity and love,” Downey says.

Cathonline

Mark Burnett’s follow up to the highly successful cable miniseries “The Bible” is heading to NBC.

The new project from the executive producer and his wife, Roma Downey – “A.D.: Beyond The Bible” – takes place after the death of Jesus.

“A perfect storm brews in the Holy Land, fueled by social injustice, Roman military oppression and religious unrest. High priests and the Herod dynasty vie for power. Zealot revolutionaries turn to violence to regain what they believe is their promised land. And in the face of terrible odds and brutal persecution, the small band of Jesus’ disciples stand against the combined might of Rome and their own local authorities. In a generation of rebellion, war, famine, and carnage, who can they trust? Who should they fear? Will tomorrow bring a violent death? For many, it does … but others survive, and as the storm around them breaks, the fate of Israel, of Rome and of their faith is decided,” read a description of the series from NBC.

NBC’s President of Entertainment Bob Greenblatt said in a statement he is looking forward to the project, which is executive produced by Burnett, Downey and Richard Bedser.

“I followed the development process of ‘The Bible’ closely with Mark and knew that the story was far from over after Christ’s Crucifixion. In fact, what happened in the aftermath – which is essentially the beginning of Christianity – is utterly fascinating. The day after ‘The Bible’ premiered, I told Mark we were on board with no hesitation for the follow-up miniseries,” Greenblatt said in a statement. “This will be attention-getting in every way, and we’re proud to continue our association with Mark which has just grown exponentially from ‘The Voice.’”

 

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The first trailer for Son of God has debuted online. The film is a big-screen adaptation of the History Channel's hit 10-hour miniseries The Bible, produced by Mark Burnett and wife Roma Downey. The movie will follow Jesus from his birth through his death and resurrection and is set to feature selections from the miniseries and additional scenes left on the cutting-room floor. Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado is reprising his role as the son of God.

PHOTOS: Jesus in Film and TV

The trailer covers the major points in the New Testament story, including Jesus' betrayal and crucifixion. The first look at the movie also provides glimpses of Jesus' ability to work miracles, like making a man walk and helping a fisherman who believed there was nothing in the water return home with a net full of fish. Jesus is also shown forgiving a man of his sins and spreading the word of God as he becomes increasingly popular.

STORY: Jesus Christ Movie 'Son of God' Hitting Theaters February 2014

The Bible garnered an average of 15 million viewers per episode and earned three Emmy nominations. 20th Century Fox is releasing the film in theaters on Feb. 28.

 

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THE BIBLE reached a new milestone today with 1 million units sold across Blu-ray, DVD and DigitalHD™. The epic 10-part miniseries from co-executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey continues to dominate records everywhere with its unprecedented sales performance. During its run, THE BIBLE propelled HISTORY® to number one in all of television from 8-10PM on Sunday nights with over 100 million viewers. THE BIBLE series will air internationally later this year, followed by its international home entertainment release.

“We are thrilled that THE BIBLE series continues to be enjoyed by millions across the country. The response to the series on television was overwhelming and clearly families are now wanting to own the DVD and enjoy it with family and friends,” said co-executive producers, husband and wife team Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. “There are many people that are gifting it to others to share the good news far and wide. THE BIBLE series is fast becoming a national treasure, and next we roll it out around the world.”

“Millions of people embraced The Bible, not only making it the television event of the year but also bringing it to unprecedented success with the home entertainment release in the US,” said Mary Daily, president and chief marketing officer of worldwide marketing, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. “We are excited about introducing this project to millions more as we launch internationally later this year.”

“Retailers understood the potential of this project immediately, especially in its broad appeal to families,” said Simon Swart, executive vice president and general manager of North America for Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. “Sales have maintained a brisk pace since its release which reflects the endearing universal appeal of the series.”

THE BIBLE retells the stories of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The four-disc Blu-ray™ and DVD set dives deeper into making of the series and features a behind-the-scenes look at how the ground-breaking miniseries came together.

THE BIBLE series is produced for HISTORY by Lightworkers Media and Hearst Entertainment & Syndication. Executive Producers are Mark Burnett, Roma Downey and Richard Bedser. Executive Producers for HISTORY are Dirk Hoogstra and Julian P. Hobbs. THE BIBLE is distributed by One Three Media, Inc.

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Little Angels Help Lift Up Little Eyes

by Jim_Daly on Dec 8, 2011 11:27:22 AM

To many, Christmas is the season of angels, and I’m not referring to Clarence Odbody, George Bailey’s fictional guardian angel (Second Class) in the perennial holiday favorite It’s a Wonderful Life.

During Advent and Christmas we remember Gabriel’s historic appearances to Zechariah (Luke 1:11-20) and, of course, Mary (Luke 1:26-38), as well as the angel’s message to Joseph (Matthew 1:20). Then there is the angel who appeared to the shepherds (Luke 2:9-14) announcing Jesus’ birth. And finally, we remember the angel who appeared to Joseph again in a dream, warning him of Herod’s intent to kill his newborn son and advising him to escape with the family to Egypt.

To read of angels in the Scriptures is to be reminded of the unseen world, that God and His Kingdom are confined to neither human dimension nor rational logic. I find such references to be heartening and faith-affirming.

But do angels still move about at God’s pleasure here on earth?

I do not fully understand how, but I believe they most certainly do. After all, it was the apostle Paul who reminded us that we may sometimes “entertain angels unaware” (Hebrews 13:2). Indeed, it can be a rather incredible thing to fully comprehend this reality. To think that at this very moment angels might be acting on our behalf is, by human standards, rather fantastical, don’t you think?

Introducing this reality to our children in terms they can understand is sometimes challenging, which is why I want to let you know about a new and fun DVD series for children that I’ve recently become acquainted with. It’s titled “Little Angels” and has been created and produced by Roma Downey (ofTouched by an Angel fame). As promoted:

LITTLE ANGELS is an animated DVD series created exclusively for preschool-aged children to teach not only practical learning skills, like ABCs and 1,2,3s, but also to introduce them to the spiritual, moral and ethical principles of the Bible.

“Our goal in creating this,” Downey told Focus on the Family, “was to inspire children and remind them that God loves them. He is watching over them, day and night. To accomplish this, I felt called to spread the word and shine the light of my faith through this animated series.”

The Irish-born Downey, who is married to television producer Mark Burnett (Survivor), is herself a mother. No stranger to the usual Hollywood fare, she deliberately set out to create a sweet, gentle and redeeming alternative, which she has successfully done.

Incidentally, I’m delighted to share with you that Little Angels is written by Phil Lollar, a former Focus team member and Adventures in Odyssey writer.

It is a good thing when a Hollywood notable devotes his or her time to a project that helps lift up the eyes of children to biblical truth. In creating Little Angels, Ms. Downey is also providing a service to parents. That’s because in a world that puts limitations on God’s power, the reminder, to quote John Page’s letter to Thomas Jefferson, “that an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm” is not only very comforting – but also very true.

Cathonline

'Little Angels': New DVD Series is a Blessing for Pre-Schoolers

November 14, 2011


Roma Downey, of "Touched by an Angel" fame, has teamed up with writer Phil Lollar ("Adventures in Odyssey") to produce a series of animated programs targeting the pre-school market. The programs are built with solid Christian values and wonderful life lessons told in a way that young children will understand them.
 

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - "Little Angels" is an animated DVD series created exclusively for preschool-aged children to teach not only practical learning skills, like ABCs and 1,2,3s, but also to introduce them to the spiritual, moral and ethical principles of the Bible. It has already received numerous endorsements, including the Seal-of-Approval from the international organization, MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers).

The series was created by Roma Downey, best remembered as Monica in "Touched by an Angel," along with writer Phil Lollar, who was a part of the creative team behind "Adventures in Odyssey."

"Little Angels" features preschool twins Alex and Zoe, who are blessed in having eight Little Angels watching over them - both figuratively and literally!   These Little Angels are painted on the ceiling of their bedroom, so they are the first things the kids see when they wake up in the morning and the last thing they see before they fall asleep at night.  But when the children really need their help, these angels come to life, helping to guide them through the challenges of their young lives.

Each program contains approximately 30 minutes of content, made up of 4 stories that are short enough to keep a preschooler's attention while still telling an important story. Accompanying these episodes, Roma Downey also has recorded some "Life Lessons for Grown-ups," where she shares ideas with parents on how to further apply these principles in their children's lives.

This is truly a family project as Ms. Downey's daughter is one of the singers for the project and her son played guitar for some of the music tracks. The concept was 18 months in development before being released to the public.

"We are so glad to be bringing this to market after all this time, love and attention to detail," Downey indicated. "It's a beautiful children's project."

"This is an animated DVD series that has been designed especially for the preschool audience to teach them practical learning skills, like ABC's and 1,2,3's. But it also to introduces them to the spiritual, moral and ethical principles of the Bible and engages them in timeless Christian values," she explained.

Downey indicated that there was a strong commitment from the beginning that the series contain quality animation, good writing and overall excellence in productions values. For this reason, she wanted Phil Lollar to be a part of the team from the very beginning.

"Having raised a family myself, you can have all the best intentions in the world but if it is not funny and fun and colorful and cute and engaging, that pre-school audience won't sit down and watch it."

As a grandfather I have to agree. I watched the sample videos thinking how my grandchildren would respond to them. When they are visiting, I am invited to join them in following the exploits of Dora the Explorer and other such shows. They will love these videos.

Values driven and Biblically based, children are exposed to lessons on such topics as perseverance, jealousy, fear, kindness, etc. They are able to visit, with the help of their guardian angels, many of the great heroes of the Bible including Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah and Joshua.

"It's a really great device for us to teach the children through song and through using their imagination how to learn their ABC's and how to identify and name the animals," Downey said. 

".of being able to introduce them to our beloved Bible characters. One of our angels is a painter; his name is Uriel. Every time he shows up he brings his canvas and his paintbrush. He paints pictures. for example, he paints a picture of the Garden of Eden or he paints a picture of the Ark, and then, in something of a dream, the children, with the angels, are able to go into the canvas and time travel back into the time of the Bible."

They are not just visiting these characters; they are also learning valuable lessons. For example, in one episode Alex is frustrated that he can't learn to tie his shoelaces. He decides he's just going to give up and only wear his shoes that have the Velcro straps. 

So, the angels take the twins back in time to Noah, who tells them how much he had to put up with in building the Ark. He had to keep going over many years only based on God's direction. His neighbors ridiculed him and he could have easily given up. Instead, Noah continued to follow the Lord.

I asked Ms. Downey how the idea for the Little Angels began, wondering if there was more to it than just her identification with Monica from "Touched by an Angel."

"When I was a little girl growing up," she explained, "and, as you know, I grew up Catholic, we would have night time prayers. One of those prayers was a prayer to our guardian angel. It may be the first prayer I remember learning. This served as the core inspiration, which is asking your guardian angel to look after you, 'to light and guard, to rule and guide.' 

"I thought it would be a marvelous idea to create an environment where the children are reminded constantly that they do have angels looking after them. The angels bring the message - the angels are just the messengers and the message is about God's love. I love God, I love children and I love Angels, so this was a bit of a no-brainer to it for me."

"Little Angels" also contains some small bits of content that will entertain adults who are watching. I saw this come through in the episode where the twins are visiting Adam and Eve. Here we see Eve just chattering away telling the twins all the little details while Adam patiently waits until she's done.

Downey really sees a long and wonderful future for her eight little angels through more DVD's, CD's and books. They are also planning on a line of toys to be in production for next year. She also has a vision for nursery décor, where a toddler can have his or her own guardian angels watching over them from the ceiling.

For more information about the "Little Angels," you can visit their website at littleangels.com.

Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

 

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'Touched by an Angel' Star Roma Downey Produces Bible Animation

October 27, 2011


A new animated DVD series produced by “Touched by an Angel” star Roma Downey will educate preschoolers on basic learning skills and biblical truths when it debuts next Tuesday.

Titled "Little Angels," the show follows the adventures of preschool twins Alex and Zoe as they learn, laugh and play. Accompanying them is a gang of eight cartoon guardian angels that guide and teach the precocious pair about life and God's love.

Its executive producer is Roma Downey, a Hollywood actress who knows a thing or two about God's celestial servants. She played the lead role in the hit CBS TV drama "Touched by an Angel," which ran from 1994 to 2003. The TV show followed an angel, played by Downey, as she served the Lord's will on Earth. Now a mother of three teenagers, Downey said she wants to share the faith beliefs she holds dear to families younger than her own.

"My Christian faith is central to my life," she said. "I've had an opportunity through my faith to share God's love. I thought wouldn't it be wonderful if I could bring the Christian message to preschoolers? With 'Little Angels,' I want to uplift and remind the little children that God loves them and teaches them valuable lessons."

Downey said "Little Angels" took the form of an educational children's cartoon and added to it biblical themes. The series' director and writer is Phil Lollar, the co-creator of the beloved evangelical radio series "Adventures in Odyssey." The fruit of their labors is a fun children's show that educates with zany antics, upbeat sing-alongs and whimsical artistry.

"The beauty of this show is that it teaches on a few different levels," she said. "It encourages both practical life skills and traditional values. I think the kids will be really entertained."

"Little Angels" debuts with two episodes on Tuesday, the first helping children identify common animals and the second learn their ABCs. Later releases will focus on counting and other skills. Each episode follows twins Alex and Zoe as they navigate the trials and tribulations of childhood with the eight angels painted on their bedroom's mural. The cherubs come to life when needed most, and each brings a unique talent to solving an individual story’s problem.

"Every one of our angels has a special gift, just like every one of God's children has a special gift," said Downey, whose favorite angel is the creative Uriel, an angel who paints Bible tales for the twins. "The angels are a reminder that God is present in our lives and never leaves us."

That reminder, Downey added, is meant as a baby step for parents as they explain Christianity to their children. She said she hopes her show serves as a starting point for those too tiny to fully grasp God's role in their lives just yet.

"I hope at dinner mom and dad can speak with their children about how they watched 'Little Angels' that afternoon," Downey said. "It's a great kickoff point to the Bible for this age group. The lessons I learned at that age stuck with me my whole life. I'd love in ten or 20 years from now to meet young adults who shared with me that they were touched by this series."

Mark Hensch
CP Contributor

 

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HISTORY® ANNOUNCES "THE BIBLE"
EXECUTIVE PRODUCED BY MARK BURNETT

NEW YORK, May 23, 2011


HISTORY has greenlit production on a new epic series, THE BIBLE, to be created by renowned producer Mark Burnett (The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice, Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?, Shark Tank) The announcement was made by Nancy Dubuc, President & General Manager, HISTORY.

The five-part, 10-hour docudrama will air in 2013. The series will be shot on location and use state-of-the art visual effects.

"HISTORY has an incredible legacy delving into important subjects to which all people are connected," said Ms. Dubuc. "There's no question The Bible is one of the world's most significant books. This series will bring the historical stories of The Bible to life for a new generation. We are thrilled to work with Mark, who is a rare breed in the business. He is an amazing storyteller, and on this project, has the ability to deliver what we hope will be the largest audience HISTORY has ever seen."

Using up-to-the-minute production techniques, The Bible series promises to be landmark television programming, combining unforgettable stories with live action and state-of-the-art computer-generated imagery (CGI). From Genesis to Revelation, HISTORY will illuminate The Bible with revealing insights into the life and times of some of its most iconic characters. It will feature some of the most famous stories ever written - from Noah's Ark and the Exodus to Daniel in the Lion's Den to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The Bible continues to be the best-selling book in America every year and last year alone, more than 25 million copies were sold.

"The Bible is a sacred text that continues to challenge and inspire," said Burnett. "We've been working on this project for the past two years and are deeply humbled to be given this once in a generation opportunity to breathe visual life into The Bible's profound stories. The Bible gives meaning and purpose to billions of people around the world, and sparks the curiosity of millions more."

THE BIBLE series is being produced for HISTORY by Lightworkers Media and Hearst Entertainment & Syndication. Executive Producers are Mark Burnett, Roma Downey and Richard Bedser. Executive Producers for HISTORY are Dirk Hoogstra and Julian P. Hobbs.


To many, Christmas is the season of angels, and I’m not referring to Clarence Odbody, George Bailey’s fictional guardian angel (Second Class) in the perennial holiday favorite It’s a Wonderful Life.

During Advent and Christmas we remember Gabriel’s historic appearances to Zechariah (Luke 1:11-20) and, of course, Mary (Luke 1:26-38), as well as the angel’s message to Joseph (Matthew 1:20). Then there is the angel who appeared to the shepherds (Luke 2:9-14) announcing Jesus’ birth. And finally, we remember the angel who appeared to Joseph again in a dream, warning him of Herod’s intent to kill his newborn son and advising him to escape with the family to Egypt.

To read of angels in the Scriptures is to be reminded of the unseen world, that God and His Kingdom are confined to neither human dimension nor rational logic. I find such references to be heartening and faith-affirming.

But do angels still move about at God’s pleasure here on earth?

I do not fully understand how, but I believe they most certainly do. After all, it was the apostle Paul who reminded us that we may sometimes “entertain angels unaware” (Hebrews 13:2). Indeed, it can be a rather incredible thing to fully comprehend this reality. To think that at this very moment angels might be acting on our behalf is, by human standards, rather fantastical, don’t you think?

Introducing this reality to our children in terms they can understand is sometimes challenging, which is why I want to let you know about a new and fun DVD series for children that I’ve recently become acquainted with. It’s titled “Little Angels” and has been created and produced by Roma Downey (ofTouched by an Angel fame). As promoted:

LITTLE ANGELS is an animated DVD series created exclusively for preschool-aged children to teach not only practical learning skills, like ABCs and 1,2,3s, but also to introduce them to the spiritual, moral and ethical principles of the Bible.

“Our goal in creating this,” Downey told Focus on the Family, “was to inspire children and remind them that God loves them. He is watching over them, day and night. To accomplish this, I felt called to spread the word and shine the light of my faith through this animated series.”

The Irish-born Downey, who is married to television producer Mark Burnett (Survivor), is herself a mother. No stranger to the usual Hollywood fare, she deliberately set out to create a sweet, gentle and redeeming alternative, which she has successfully done.

Incidentally, I’m delighted to share with you that Little Angels is written by Phil Lollar, a former Focus team member and Adventures in Odyssey writer.

It is a good thing when a Hollywood notable devotes his or her time to a project that helps lift up the eyes of children to biblical truth. In creating Little Angels, Ms. Downey is also providing a service to parents. That’s because in a world that puts limitations on God’s power, the reminder, to quote John Page’s letter to Thomas Jefferson, “that an angel rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm” is not only very comforting – but also very true.