Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

Epic casting. NBC has announced the cast of A.D., the highly anticipated follow-up to the 2013 ratings blockbuster miniseries The Bible  that aired on The History Channel and which garnered over 100 million US viewers. From executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, the first episode of A.D. will premiere Easter Sunday, April 5th, 2015. If the ratings are good, A.D. has the potential to continue its story of the early Church for many seasons to come.

Expressing high hopes that the show will appeal to modern audiences, Downey says “Christianity is among the most diverse movements in history, so when Mark and I looked to bring this epic story of A.D. to life on NBC, it was important to us to find a cast as diverse and beautiful as the church is around the world…We look forward to sharing these amazing performances with our audience, and in them we hope that people see themselves.”

Juan Pablo di Pace, a critically acclaimed Argentinean actor, has been cast as Jesus.  Di Pace is best known for his portrayal of Petros in the hit film Mamma Mia, along with award-winning theater work in London and Spain. He also had a recurring in the NBC series Camp

Di Pace leads an international cast hailing from more than 10 different nations, including Gambia (Babou Ceesay as John), Zimbabwe (Chipo Chung as Mary Magdalene Denver Isaac as James), Jamaica (Nicholas Pinnock as Arik), Scotland (Fraser Ayers as Simon The Zealot), Britain (Peter De Jersey as Ananias), Italy (Greta Scacchi as Jesus’ mother Mary and Cesare Taurasi as Judas), Iceland (Johannes Johannesson as  Thomas) and Greece (George Georgiou as Boaz).

Others in the cast include Richard Coyle (Crossbones, Covert AffairsW.E.Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time),  Vincent Regan (The MusketeersClash of the Titans300TroyRescue Me), Adam Levy (Borgia), Emmet Scalan (Constantine)l, Jodhi May (The Crimson FieldDefianceThe Last of the MohicansGinger & Rosa), Joanne Whalley (The BorgiasGossip GirlWillow), Helen Daniels,  Pedro Lloyd Gardiner (The Red Tent), Chris Brazier (AirborneCoronation Street), Brendan Patricks (Downton AbbeySkinsDoctor Who), Will Thorp (Coronation StreetDoctor WhoLaw & Order UK), Morgan Watkins (Suffragette), Kevin Doyle (Downton AbbeyThe Crimson FieldHawaii Five-OThe Tudors), James Callis (Battle Start GalacticaBridget Jones’ Diary), Claire Cooper (Hollyoaks),  John Loannou, Lex Shrapnel (HauntedCaptain America: The First Avenger), Peter de Jersey (Doctor WhoBroadchurch),  Indra Ove, Charlene McKenna (Ripper StreetSkins), Reece Ritchie (Hercules, The Lovely Bones), Francis Magee (Game of ThronesThe Bible), Kenneth Collard (GalavantAlbert NobbsAnna Karenina), Struan Rodgers (Game of Thrones), Lonyo Engele (The Bible) and Soumaya Akabounne (LovelaceGreen Zone),

Per the press release: A.D.  is an uplifting and harrowing journey through the beginning moments of the birth of the church picking up where the smash hit, The Bible, left off.  A.D. follows the first ten chapters of the Book of Acts exploring the aftermath of Christ’s death and its profound impact on his disciples, his mother Mary, and key political and religious leaders of the era, an impact that would completely change the world.  A.D. will take its audience from the intense sorrow of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice to the awe-inspiring wonder of the Resurrection and deep into his disciples’ struggle to survive against opposition from every side as they continued to share his message of love with everyone, everywhere. The series includes compelling context around the Biblical text, focusing initially on the Book of Acts while integrating dramatic history to help tell the full story of the people and their era.  The audience will enter the world of the Apostles, of Pilate, Caiaphas, Herod Antipas and others, all from their own points of view.  Each episode aims to bring the Biblical world to life in all of its grit and glory.

A.D. has already been endorsed by a wide range of faith leaders, including Joel & Victoria Osteen (of  Lakewood Church), Rick Warren (of  Saddleback Church), Max Lucado (author of Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer) Bishop T.D. Jakes (CEO of TDJ Enterprises and senior pastor of The Potter’s House of Dallas), Wilfredo De Jesús (Senior Pastor New Life Covenant Church),Cardinal Donald Wuerl (of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.), Dr. Ronnie Floyd (Senior Pastor of  Cross Church & President of the Southern Baptist Convention), Dr. Jo Anne Lyon (General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church and Founder of World Hope International), Dr George O. Wood (General Superintendent of the Assembly of God), Gabe Lyons (Founder of Q Ideas and Author of The Next Christians), Joshua DuBois (author of  The President’s Devotional and former director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships,  Louie Giglio (of Passion City Church), Christine Caine (The A21 Campaign), Rev. Samuel Rodriquez (President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference) and Andy Stanley (North Point Ministries).

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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