Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Mark Burnett said today that his mega-rated History Channel miniseries The Bible is being recut into a single three-hour edition for theatrical release. Burnett revealed the news tonight following an NBC Summer Press Day closing panel promoting The Voice, which he exec produces. Burnett said that it has no studio affiliation or distribution agreement yet but that he has “many offers” for getting the revised version into theaters on a global scale. One option would be to distribute it himself, with a target goal of this fall. “We’re in the position where it’s just a matter of choosing” the right venue and situation, Burnett emphasized. “We could put it into arenas. There are a lot of possible choices we could go with.” He hinted that going the unconventional route is his likely first choice, a scenario reminiscent of Mel Gibson’s with his feature The Passion Of The Christ back in 2004. “We kind of operate outside the business, we do our own thing,” Burnett said. “It’s a good position to be in.” Burnett exulted that The Bible was viewed in the United States alone by some 100 million people and tens of millions more internationally. “All of those people who rolled their eyes three years ago and said nobody’s going to watch The Bible on TV, well, they were wrong,” he said. “But I wasn’t surprised. I knew it would work like it did.” How did he know? “God,” Burnett replied. “It was God’s voice. Too many things happened to see it any other way.”
This year’s 65th Primetime Emmy Awards were supposed to introduce a smaller longform field after the Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences last year voted to consolidate the Best Lead and Supporting actor and actress categories for miniseries and TV movies, reducing the total number of longform acting categories from four to two starting with the 2013 Emmys. But tonight, the TV Academy Board voted to reverse the consolidation, reinstating the longform lead and supporting categories in this year’s competition. The TV Academy cited “the unanticipated resurgence of television miniseries and movies” for its decision to keep the existing number of longform categories. The backtracking is surprising since reducing the those categories was the first major Emmy rule change under TV Academy chairman Bruce Rosenblum.
The consolidation decision had been driven mainly by the dwindling pool of longform programming on TV, especially miniseries, which led to the merging of the best TV movie and miniseries categories in 2011 following two consecutive years of only two best miniseries nominees. But miniseries/limited series have enjoyed a resurgence in the past couple of years, ranking as the most watched cable entertainment telecasts of 2012 (History’s Hatfields & McCoys) and ever (2013 (History’s The Bible). The field also was joined by such hits as Downton Abbey, which started off in the longform category before moving to drama series, and FX’s anthology American Horror Story. And with Fox and FX making a major push in limited-event series, there will be even more contenders joining traditional longorm Emmy frontrunner HBO, which just saw its original movie Behind The Candelabra selected to compete for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. While the consolidation of the longform acting categories is being nixed, the best longform category (movie/miniseries) remains combined. Read More »
Oprah Winfrey hosts the Emmy-winning husband and wife team behind the History Channel hit The Bible Sunday night on her primetime show Oprah’s Next Chapter. One topic the pair will address is the controversy-sparking resemblance … Read More »
The History 10-part miniseries The Bible sold more than 525,000 units in its first week on shelves, already establishing itself as the best-selling mini of all time on Blu-ray and DVD and the best-selling TV on … Read More »
The miniseries from Mark Burnett and wife Roma Downey is scoring in the ratings for History, drawing 13.1 million viewers in its premiere episode and holding strong ahead of its final episode Sunday. But that makes The Bible fair game for The Colbert Report host, who … Read More »
A couple of thoughts on TV from a feature guy. The Kevin Williamson-created Fox series The Following might be the most aggravating but addictive series to come down the pike in some time. Kevin Bacon plays an FBI agent trying to capture a serial killer (James Purefoy) who has accumulated a Manson Family-like group of creepy disciples all too eager to commit unimaginably horrible acts on the killer’s behalf. As if that in itself wasn’t unlikely enough, the killer met all of his acolytes when they visited him in prison. Hasn’t anybody in the FBI thought of checking the visitor list from his days behind bars, rather than waiting and reacting to the latest horror? Can the FBI really be that dumb? That said, I cannot think of a time when I’ve been hooked on so many series, between The Following, Justified, The Walking Dead, House Of Cards, The Americans, Vikings and Blue Bloods, and I just now received the first four episodes of the new season of Game Of Thrones, and have new seasons of Homeland, Sons Of Anarchy and Boardwalk Empire to look forward to. I remember Tony Gilroy telling Deadline in an interview that mid-range dramas like his superb Michael Clayton are becoming extinct in features, and are instead being made as series for basic and pay cable networks by feature guys. As a result, TV has never been stronger while film leaves room for improvement in this department. Read More »
UPDATE, 10:15 AM: History and The Bible executive producers, husband and wife Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, just addressed the Obama-Satan controversy. “History channel has the highest respect for President Obama,” the network said in a statement. “The series was produced with an international and diverse cast of respected actors. It’s unfortunate that anyone made this false connection. History’s The Bible is meant to enlighten people on its rich stories and deep history.”
Burnett and Downey used stronger language in dismissing the connection, suggesting that the actor playing the Devil may have been simply type cast. “This is utter nonsense,” they said. “The actor who played Satan, Mehdi Ouzaani, is a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor. He has previously played parts in several Biblical epics — including Satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our President.” Added Downey: “Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love our President, who is a fellow Christian. False statements such as these are just designed as a foolish distraction to try and discredit the beauty of the story of The Bible.”
PREVIOUS 7:15 AM: History’s hit miniseries The Bible had its 3rd installment last night. It’s already been taken to task for its use of beautiful actors in all key roles. Now the project’s casting choice for the role of Satan has come under fire for the apparent resemblance of Moroccan actor Mehdi Ouazzani to President Barack Obama. Read More »
It was a big night for History, whose 10-hour miniseries The Bible opened with 13.1 million viewers and 4.6 million adults 25-54 to rank as the No.1 cable entertainment telecast of the year. It was followed by the debut of the network’s first original scripted series, The Vikings, which rode The Bible‘s coattails to draw 6.2 million viewers, 2.5 million Adults 18-49 and 2.7 million Adults 25-54, beating the broadcast networks at 10 PM in the 18-49 demo. The rollout was part of a new strategy by male-skewing History which is launching the bulk of its programming after the end of football season this year.
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History has announced that its five-part docudrama series The Bible will premiere on March 3 at 8 PM. The 10-hour special, executive produced by Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey (who plays Mary), combines live action and CGI to tell the best-known stories of the word’s most popular book. Keith David narrates the series, which Burnett has been working on for two years and which was greenlighted in May 2011. Also in the cast is Portugal’s Diogo Morgado as Jesus and UK-based actors including Sean Teale (Skins), David Rintoul (My Week with Marilyn), Amber Rose Revah (The Borgias), Peter Guinness, Greg Hicks and Simon Kunz (Matchpoint). Read More »