- (Photo: The Christian Post / Stoyan Zaimov)
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, producers of the hit miniseries "The Bible," will be the keynote speakers at a family and faith-based entertainment conference in Los Angeles, the same place where they introduced the concept for their miniseries one year ago.
Burnett and Downey will be speaking at the second annual "Purpose: Family Entertainment and Faith-Based Summit," which is being held Friday at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., and is being coordinated by Variety Magazine in association with the Rogers & Cowan entertainment agency.
Downey, co-producer of "The Bible" miniseries and actress behind the role of mother Mary on the show, said in a recent interview with Variety that she and Burnett are honored to return to the conference where they originally introduced the concept of "The Bible" last year.
"There's a real poetry to return to where the first scenes of 'The Bible' were shown, when we got such a strong initial reaction from those who saw it," Downey, who also starred in "Touched by an Angel," told Variety.
"It opened an opportunity for dialogue and for families to discuss faith."
Downey went on to say that she and her husband, Burnett, both Christians, were hoping that their miniseries would appeal to all Americans regardless of their relationship with the Bible.
"The Bible" miniseries, which ran on The History Channel in 10, two-hour long episodes during the month of March, gained widespread success, reaching more than 95 million viewers by its completion and becoming the best-selling miniseries on DVD ever.
The immense success of "The Bible" has led Burnett to also pursue another faith-themed project, a three-hour theatrical film version of the series focusing primarily on the resurrection of Jesus.
Burnett said at a conference in Los Angeles in early June that he is inclined to tell the story of the Bible because he believes it is true.
"It's the most important story in the history of the world," Burnett said at the "Produced By" conference.
"It's completely true ... I know it's true ... because I feel it in me," Burnett, who has also produced popular television shows like "Celebrity Apprentice," "Shark Tank," "Survivor," and "The Voice," added.
The focus of Friday's "Purpose: Family Entertainment and Faith-Based Summit" is to discuss new ways to address the untapped market of family and faith-centered entertainment programming, according to Variety.
The summit will be attended by network executives, screenwriters, actors, and producers, and along with Burnett and Downey, will feature speakers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, both Mormons who have written successful animation films such as "Despicable Me," and Rich Peluso, vice president of Sony Pictures' Affirm unit, among others.
Peluso told Variety that the success seen by shows such as "The Bible" miniseries, "American Bible Challenge," and "Soul Surfer" are what motivate entertainment executives to take a closer look at the faith-based market.
"The real change in the industry's perception happens after that content hits successfully and catches many in the industry by surprise. So many people scratch their heads and wonder where projects like 'The Bible,' 'American Bible Challenge' and 'Soul Surfer' came from. That's when perception really changes – success by success," Peluso told Variety.
Also speaking at Friday's conference is DeVon Franklin, senior production vice president at Columbia Pictures, and Bruce Goerlich, chief research officer of Rentrak, which measures viewing trends in film and television.
Later this summer, Burnett and Downey will be partnering with the Women of Faith organization on their 24-city live-events tour, beginning in August and ending in November.
"We are excited to partner with Women of Faith to share with women across the nation the impact our Bible has made on history. Having stepped into the role of Mother Mary myself, I know firsthand the great impact women have had on God's love story for all of us," Downey said in a statement, as reported by The Christian Post.