Surprising good news from Hollywood

By Tom Quiner

Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey

Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey

An “angel” produced a big hit in the name of God.
I’m talking about Roma Downey, who starred in “Touched by an Angel.”
She and her husband, Mark Burnett, produced an epic mini series, “The Bible,” viewed by a hundred million people on The History Channel.
You read correctly:  one hundred million. Even more, it became the most-downloaded series on ITunes.
I watched a few episodes of “The Bible.” It didn’t quite work for me. They souped up the violence way too much. On the other hand, the Bible IS violent.
Ms. Downey seems to be a lovely lady. Her Roman Catholic faith animates her life. She is a big fan of Pope Francis:

“I think the Pope is a real blessing to the world. He’s brought in some new hope, healing and grace with his desire to focus on loving each other and surely that is what Jesus taught us. I think he’s a Pope of Hope.”

Can you imagine such talk at a Hollywood gathering? That’s where Ms. Downey made these remarks. Here’s the good news: she claims that Hollywood isn’t a bunch of God-bashers. She said there are many people of faith in the business:

“My experience is that there are more Christians in this town than you would imagine and having made the series has given people permission to speak about faith. People are reacting to us by stepping up to us with a handshake and saying thank you for making the show and sharing that it has touched their lives. It has brought us together in faith.”

She and her husband are building on their success with another Bible-based production, “The Son of God,” this one a feature film. She addressed the challenge of “The Bible”:

“And absolutely there were challenges along the way. First and foremost, we only had 10 hours to bring ‘The Bible’ to the screen, so it was hard to select which stories would make it in. We knew it was a big responsibility to bring the bible to television.”

That was part of my problem; they had to cut out too much. The new movie allows them to take their time in telling the story of Jesus:

“It follows the life and the death and resurrection of Jesus with the emphasis on the resurrection. It is an upbeat, beautiful and powerful story about the Lord, and I think people will leave feeling uplifted and inspired.”

I was thinking of two other movies that moved me that approached an epic figure in a non-epic way. Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln simply dealt with one, very specific event of the Lincoln presidency. He was able to take his time telling the wonderful story of the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” is another one. It dealt with just three critical days in His public ministry: His betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection.
It will be interesting to see what Roma Downey and Mark Burnett do with “The Son of God.” The public is obviously hungry for faith-based entertainment.