"The Bible" a Labor of Love for Famed Producer, Wife
The five-week, 10-hour TV special was nurtured by "Touched by an Angel" star Roma Downey and husband Mark Burnett. He's the force behind such major TV successes as Survivor and The Voice. They say it has already changed lives.
BY: Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
asked the same question maybe a year ago on the wrong day, when we were exhausted and we were thinking ‘Oh, wow, this is so tough–’”
“It was a little bit like carrying a baby,” interjects Downey. “I think after the point of delivery, most women forget how uncomfortable their pregnancies were and so, here we are on the eve of delivery and we are just so grateful for the experience of making this series together, co-producing as a husband and wife team.
“It really deepened our friendship and strengthened our marriage.
“You know,” she says with a smile, “there were moments during it I’m sure where we felt we might never speak to each other again. It was highly pressured and very hard work. It was hard to be gone from home for so long. We were in Morocco from February to July, but we felt called to do this.”
“We shot in Morocco,” says Mark, “because our hope was to achieve an epic, big scale, quality production that would present the grand narrative of the Bible while at the same time allow opportunities for intimate storytelling – so that we could really make the emotional connection with our audience.”
“We know as movie makers that this sort of storytelling begins in the heart,” says Roma. “When your heart opens up, that’s the opportunity for grace to move in.”
This series is far more than just entertainment, say the couple.
“I believe that people will be able to go back to the Scripture with these images in their minds and be able to engage God’s Word in a whole new and exciting way,” says Downey.
Wasn’t telling Bible stories an abrupt change of direction for Burnett? Is it a recent thing that he would tackle a project focusing on the Holy Scriptures?
“This project certainly deepened my faith immensely,” he says. “I mean, anybody who spends three and a half years working on telling the story of the Bible cannot help but be touched.”
But a personal faith isn’t something new to him, he says. “I grew up in a wonderful home with a Scottish Presbyterian mother and a Scottish Catholic father. It wasn’t until I was in my 20s probably in America that I realized there is a difference between Catholics and Protestants.
“That was a great way to grow up – with tolerance for each other.”
Given his success with reality TV, wasn’t this a major challenge professionally?
“Oh, yes,” he chuckles. “I mean it was my first time working with actors so closely.”
It was also his first time directing his wife.
“I didn’t go over to Morocco with the intention of playing any part,” recalls Downey. “We ended up you know, trying to cast the role