British-born TV impresario Mark Burnett has stated that he expects the Easter Sunday finale of his latest creation — a five-part dramatization of the Bible — to bring in more than the 13 million plus viewers who tuned in to watch the series premiere.
Burnett is a one-time British Army paratrooper who’s become a major purveyor of reality TV shows such as Survivor and Celebrity Apprentice. With The Bible, shown on the History Channel, he’s created the biggest cable TV blockbuster of the year.
He produced the series with his wife, the actress Roma Downey. They shot on location in Morocco working with a cast that included several British actors, none of them high-profile names.
Burnett appears proud of the success of his biblical extravaganza. He says: “This was important to our hearts. We believe in the Bible. We believe in Jesus, and that’s the No. 1 subject right now in America and that’s great!”
The Bible has legions of fans who lavish praise, but many reviewers haven’t been impressed. Neil Genzlinger, a New York Times TV critic, used the words “cheesy spectacle” when rendering his verdict on the series.
With more than 75 per cent of Americans identifying themselves as Christian, it isn’t a total surprise that The Bible has done so well. It’s also benefited from very effective marketing from church organizations, as was the case with Mel Gibson’s blockbuster religious epic The Passion of the Christ several years ago.