Actress and producer Roma Downey and reality producer Mark Burnett announced recently at the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) convention in Nashville, Tenn., that the success of “The Bible” series has opened doors to a follow-up TV series called “A.D.: The Bible Continues.”
It is a 12-part continuation of The Bible that portrays the history of the early church as described in the first 10 chapters of Acts. The series will air on NBC beginning Easter, April 5. Filmed in Morocco, A.D. will delve into the book of Acts and show the humanity and true character of the apostles, as well as their undying devotion to take the gospel to the known world no matter the cost. The persecution of the early church and its miraculous growth are also highlighted.
“We pulled from history and Acts using scholars from both areas and wove it together into a cool, relatable, true and compelling story so people can see what the early church was like,” said Downey.
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey announced during the National Religious Broadcasters convention that their follow-up to “The Bible” debuts April 5. “A.D.: The Bible Continues” covers the first 10 chapters of Acts following the apostles as they spread the gospel no matter the cost.
Jerry Johnson, NRB president, commended Downey and Burnett for their good work researching the historical and political setting. Burnett was thankful for God’s provision through scholars and pastors, saying, “God doesn’t always call the qualified. He qualifies the called.”
The success of The Bible has opened this door. He noted the 100 million viewers who watched this series and added, “In Canada, The Bible series even beat out hockey!” Nothing would please the producers more than for people to be talking about A.D., God and Jesus … They are hoping “The Bible will become a regular series and open the door for many others.”
Burnett added, “Christians need to be noisier in regards to letting Hollywood know what we want.”
Devon Franklin, a rising producer in Hollywood who just formed his own company to make God-honoring films, echoed Burnett’s sentiment. “The power of our unified voices (as believers) is important,” he said. “The biggest way we vote is when you turn on your TV and pay for your movies at the box office. So choose those that honor God.”
Burnett and Franklin’s comments resonated as Christians at the NRB convention were coming to grips with the initial success of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Burnett also commented that the characters in A.D. look much like people in today’s society. The Roman Empire was a melting pot in its day. So after heeding advice from his African-American friends that The Bible series was “a little white,” Burnett said this cast is more diverse. Burnett also pointed out the providence of God in that Jesus was born at a time in the Roman Empire when “Roman roads were the Internet of their day.”
The series begins with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and then chronicles an intense time in history. Downey refers to it as, “A time filled with enormous faith, persecution, brutal Roman oppression and the desperate Jewish revolt – a time when history would be changed forever.”
A musical score by Hans Zimmer – of “Gladiator,” “The Dark Knight” and “Inception” fame – highlights the dramatic twists and turns in the series’ plot.
Downey said Rick Warren warned her, “The most dangerous prayer you can pray is, ‘Lord, use me’ – because He might just answer you.” Although that has been her prayer for years, both Downey and Burnett confessed the past year had been a time of spiritual warfare as they made strides to make the Bible come alive on television. Their son Cameron collapsed while they were filming in Morocco and was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor. Burnett said, “We covet the prayers of God’s people.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ginny Dent Brant is an author, speaker, counselor and soloist. She is editor-at-large for Sonoma Christian Home Magazine. Visit ginnybrant.com.)