(Photo: Grace Hill Media)
NBC has officially given the green light to the 12-hour miniseries "A.D.," dubbed a follow-up to the wildly successfully "The Bible" miniseries that aired on the History channel in the the spring and did wonders for the network's ratings and popularity among Christians.
The creators of "The Bible" series, "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett and his wife, "Touched by an Angel" star Roma Downey, expressed excitement over NBC finally signing off on the project after initial talks that started last summer.
"We are so thrilled to be all systems go with NBC on 'A.D.,' our follow-up to 'The Bible,'" said Downey and Burnett in a Tuesday press statement. "It is the story that changed the world. Millions have died for it and billions live by it. We know that an enormous community will be counting the days until 'A.D.' premieres. We look forward to making this an epic global television event."
Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment, added, "Last year when Mark Burnett was launching 'The Bible' on cable, I told him, without hesitation, that if he wanted to tell more of the story, we'd love to do it at NBC. We are firmly in the 'event' business and nothing has more event potential than 'A.D.' as it continues immediately after the 'The Bible' ended."
"A.D." will most likely air in spring 2015, according to the network. Simon Block, who is two-time BAFTA-nominated for the TV movie "The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall," will write the script. A director and cast have not yet been announced.
"A.D." is slated to portray events following Christ's crucifixion, according to NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke.
"In the first episode alone you see the last moments of the Crucifixion, Judas taking his own life after betraying Christ, Peter denying Jesus three times, and then the miracle of the Resurrection," revealed Salke. "We feel so fortunate to be in the hands of Mark and Roma, who have proven that the greatest story ever told is still just that."
"The Bible" 10-part series brought the History channel 13.1 million viewers on its March 3 premiere and 11.7 million viewers for the final episode, which aired Easter Sunday. The cable network had never seen such viewer numbers in all its 18-year history, and even experienced a sudden boost in reputation among Christians and conservatives thanks to the series. NBC, which originally lost the bidding war for "The Bible" series, could likely see even bigger viewer numbers for "A.D." due to its airing on broadcast TV.
Burnett and Downey's LightWorkers Media, producers of "The Bible" series, also has on its plate a PG-13 feature film titled "Son of God," to be distributed by 20th Century Fox. "Son of God," open in theaters Feb. 28, 2014, will include footage that was shot for "The Bible" series but cut from the final version.
When asked by The Christian Post in November about "The Bible" series' success, Downey said it was "a God thing."
"Clearly, it's a God thing that 'The Bible' series began, that's one thing, and out of it has emerged this beautiful stand-alone feature film that we believe will just be a blessing," she said. "It has a big movie studio distributing it, not a rinky-dink little distribution group, but 20th Century Fox. And Jesus is going to be on the big screen Feb. 28."
"We just know that God is going to take this and is going to use this," Downey added.