Watch: the first ad for National Geographic’s Killing Jesus

KillingJesus_NGC_01An Old Testament movie directed by Ridley Scott is currently fizzling at the box office. Will a New Testament movie produced by him fare any better when it premieres on television this spring?

That was the question some reporters were asking at the Television Critics Association today, as they met some of the cast and crew from Killing Jesus. Like its predecessors Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, the film is based on a book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, and it was produced by Ridley Scott (and others) for the National Geographic Channel.

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Our first look at the cast for The Bible follow-up series A.D.

ad-jesusAt last, we know who some (but not all) of the actors will be in A.D., the NBC series that Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are producing as a follow-up to their hit miniseries The Bible.

First, People reveals that Jesus will be played by Argentinian actor Juan Pablo di Pace, and, just as Diogo Morgado’s Jesus in The Bible quickly earned the nickname “Hot Jesus”, so too People notes that di Pace is “easy-on-the-eyes”.

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National Geographic unveils the cast for Killing Jesus

killingjesusThe National Geographic Channel’s adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus is now filming in Morocco, and thanks to The Hollywood Reporter, we now know who many of the actors are — and they’re an eclectic bunch, to be sure.

In keeping with other recent efforts to depict Jesus as something other than a blonde-haired, blue-eyed European, the part of Jesus will be played by Haaz Sleiman, an actor born in Lebanon who is perhaps best-known for playing a Syrian immigrant in Tom McCarthy’s The Visitor.

Herod the Great, on the other hand, will be played by Kelsey Grammer, who doesn’t seem like a particularly Middle Eastern kind of guy to me. (The fact that he’s best known for his comedic roles on Frasier and The Simpsons doesn’t help!)

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National Geographic’s Killing Jesus now has a director

killingjesusVarious sites, including Deadline and Variety, are reporting that veteran TV director Christopher Menaul has been tapped to oversee the upcoming adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus for the National Geographic Channel. Ridley Scott is one of several producers attached to the project.

Menaul has worked almost exclusively in television, so I am unfamiliar with his work — though I do recall attending a press screening of Feast of July back in the mid-’90s. In any case, he does not seem to have worked in the Bible-movie genre before.

In March, the adaptation, written by Law & Order veteran Walon Green, was described as a four-hour miniseries. Now they’re calling it a “three-hour telepic”. Does that mean the whole thing will air on a single night?

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Two very different Jesus shows heading for television

Remember Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus?

Last year, the National Geographic Channel teamed up with Ridley Scott’s production company to turn O’Reilly’s book into a TV-movie, just as they had done with his earlier books Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot.

Now comes word that they’re going to make their third project a little longer, and turn it into a four-hour mini-series that will begin production this summer and premiere sometime in 2015.

Hmm. You don’t suppose the enormous success of the mini-series The Bible last year — which led to this year’s Son of God on the big screen and next year’s A.D. on the NBC network — had anything to do with Killing Jesus getting more airtime, do you?

Meanwhile, a very different sort of TV show is set to premiere this year. The Hollywood Reporter says Aaron McGruder, creator of the animated comedy The Boondocks (2005-2010), is working on a live-action series called Black Jesus for the Adult Swim network, and the trade paper describes the premise thusly:
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Two more TV-movies — one now, one later — for Holy Week

I promise to have a post on last Sunday’s episode of The Bible soon. In the meantime, I just want to note two things that popped up in my news feed today.

First, it turns out there is another brand-new Bible-themed movie on TV this week, as the Reelz network is hosting the American premiere of Barabbas, a two-part mini-series about the Jewish rebel or criminal who was freed by Pilate in Jesus’ place.

Starring Billy Zane and directed by Roger Young (who previously directed some of the better-known films in the ‘Bible Collection’ series), it is based on the same Par Lagerkvist novel that inspired the 1961 film starring Anthony Quinn (as well as a 1953 film made in Sweden and, apparently, a 2001 film made in Armenia).

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