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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: April 4, 2015.

Tonight, April 5th, the first part of Downey’s and Burnett’s A.D. The Bible Continues airs on television. Roma Downey and husband, Mark Burnett, have been working industriously on at producing first-rate, inspirational television programming for 2015 that includes the following: The DovekeepersA.D. The Bible Continues, and Unveiled.

Roma Downey and Mark Burnett have made prolific and profound contributions to the growing Renaissance and Reformation in movies and television. In many notable interviews, including March 30 with Megan Kelly, they have said that they have been tired of the darkness in Hollywood and have chosen to do something about it as praying people of faith. With their company LightWorkers Media, producer and actor Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel, The Bible) and producer Mark Burnett (The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice) have produced their Bible series for television and subsequent, movie Son of God. Both have been successful and popular.

Downey and Burnett have been on the forefront of the growing popularity and success of Biblical, inspirational programming for theaters and television, At the recent Movieguide Awards Gala in Hollywood, their movie Son of God won the award for its Best Family Movie of 2014. Further, they are executive producers for the exquisite, pristine movie Little Boy, out in theaters April 24. (In an exclusive telephone interview with this writer on March 30, producer Eduardo Verástegui told how after Roma Downey and Mark  Burnett had seen a screening of Little Boy, they asked how they could help and thereafter became executive producers of the movie.) They are also working on a remake of the movie Ben Hur.

Downey’s and Burnett’s television miniseries The Dovekeepers, is based on Alice Hoffman’s best-selling historical novel. This two two-hour series centers on the siege at Masada. Hoffman’s book focuses on four women when they fight for survival at Masada. The series is set in ancient Israel  and the story is based on true events at Masada in 70 AD. Because they have been forced from their homes in Jerusalem by the Romans, 900 Jewsare in an ancient fortress on the mountain of Masada in the Judean desert overlooking the Dead Sea in Israel. During the siege, the Jews have been holding out for months against the vast Roman armies.

The miniseries is from the point of view of the four women who have arrived at Masada independently. They each have unique backstories, but who together have a common bond as they fight for survival. They are the keepers of the doves, which are essential to the community’s agriculture at Masada. This is a love story set in the midst of an epic tragedy. (A tragic story is dramaticallyand even meodramtically told as a warning to discourage the repeating of such events.) Roma Downey has shared that this story has timely, universal implications.

In communication to her supporters on March 31, Roma Downey has said, “This week, Jewish families around the world will be celebrating Passover, commemorating the safe passage of their ancestors out of Egypt. The Dovekeepers debuted just before Passover.

On the set of Dovekeepers in Malta; Photo Courtesy of CBS.

Roma Downey with actresses on the set of Dovekeepers in Malta; Photo Courtesy of CBS.

Roma Downey has shared about her series A.D. The Bible Continues that is due out on television for Easter.  Downey has said that she and Mark Burnett have produced this and other work because “People are hungry for stories of faith.” Furthermore, she shares with her supporters on March 31 that their “…spiritual journey through biblical history continues on Easter Sunday when NBC premieres A.D. The Bible Continues. The 12-part miniseries picks up where…The Bible left off. Sourcing the New Testament’s Book of Acts, A.D. takes the story forward from fateful moment of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection to the period of time when Christ’s disciples go forward and disseminate his teachings.”

In an interview with Megan Kelly on March 30 concerning A.D., she said, “People are hungry for hope, they’re hungry for story, they’re hungry for connection, I think they’re hungry for God,” Burnett added, “This nation was built on two things really: free enterprise and the Bible,” Downey has explained that people think the story of Jesus ended at the cross, but she said that was just the beginning.

A.D. opens with events surrounding the Crucifixion. However, Burnett has told journalists that they were never told  by NBC to prepare for an Easter Sunday bow. He has seen the timing as the work of a higher power — higher than even NBC’s top boss. “We didn’t make it thinking we’d get an Easter Sunday premiere,” Burnett said Jan. 16 during the Television Critics Assn. press tour. “We had no idea when it would be on. But we are people of deep faith…we believe God’s hands are all over it…was always intended to be on Easter Sunday.”

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Principal cast members together at the premiere of A.D.; Photo Courtesy of NBC.

Further, at the Television Critics Association (TCA) 2015 Winter Press Tour, Roma Downey said, “Every decision in my life big or small always includes a prayer…There was a lot prayer in casting the series.” Mark Burnett said that he hasn’t received anything but support for A.D. The Bible Continues and that he and Roma are very excited to see it premiere on Easter weekend. Roma reiterated the viewers’ desire for this type of spiritually uplifting, inspiring, faith friendly programming. “We just know there’s a hunger for this type of material,” she said. “People are hungry for hope.”

“Slightly more than 50 percent is based on the Acts of the Apostles and epistles,” Mr. Burnett said about A.D. at a January press conference. “So there are checkpoints that anyone who knows the Bible will recognize in each episode…then we colored in between the lines of what was going on, what we think was going on….relied upon Josephus…and other historians….”

In the first episode, A.D. explores what Cassius and Pilate might have been thinking about once Christ’s body disappeared from its tomb. Burnett has said, “It would have been, ‘If we find the body’ — which clearly someone stole the body – ‘find the body, we get rid of this nonsense.’ So the first couple of hours deal with what could be called ‘find that body,’…That’s a way of an entry point, same story, but it’s what would have been going on.”

Roma and Mark with Diogo (playing Jesus in "Son of God"). Photo Courtesy of Lightworkers Media.

Roma and Mark with Diogo (playing Jesus in “Son of God”). Photo Courtesy of Lightworkers Media.

Mr. Burnett has said further that the politics of the time come into play in a big way. He said, “Two thousand years later, clothing has changed, transport has changed, electronics, finance [have changed but] people haven’t changed…governments are still doing the same thing they were doing then under Roman rule, trying to maintain…power at all costs…it was a very explosive time. It was a time that changed the history of the world. There’s no question. Not just the date, the start of year one, but it changed the world…This is a story that millions have died for and billions live for,” Mr. Burnett said.

After Easter, watch Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s Unveiled, which is a new angel series coming on NBC! Unveiled concerns a band of flawed guardian angels who intervene in the lives of those who find themselves facing crisis. The angels endeavor to restore the faith of those they serve, often saving their lives, as well. Roma Downey and Mark Burnett are executive producers through their LightWorkers Media. John Sakmar & Kerry Lenhart are the scriptwriters for this dramatic faith series that NBC has given a pilot order,


By Dr. Diane Howard

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