To Mr. Burnett, that means the network “is acknowledging it happens to be the most important book in the world. In the end, [the series is] honoring the book.”
Advance praise for the series from Christian leaders has been building.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen,” the Rev. Rick Warren raved last month It was a rare product plug by the evangelical megachurch pastor, after declaiming about religious liberty at Georgetown University.
Others lauding the film include Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes, along with websites spanning a range of Protestant and Catholic viewpoints.
Asked whether there was any resistance in Hollywood toward the production, Mr. Burnett cited this year’s Grammy Awards, in which participants such as Carrie Underwood, LL Cool J, Jay-Z and Diddy “first thanked God” in their comments.
“People who are extremely cool are also people of faith,” Mr. Burnett said.
During taping, Miss Downey said, “We had the source book available. The actors would sit around and read Scripture.”
She added, “While not all the actors were believers, they all believed in the project. Who wouldn’t be touched by the story of Jesus?”
What the couple are hoping for is that this series will be “a legacy project,” viewed decades after “Survivor” is a memory.
The two are especially pleased with the special effects: From the parting of the Red Sea to the post-resurrected nail-pierced hand of Jesus, the couple worked to ensure Miss Downey’s teenagers — turned off by the decades-old effects of earlier biblical epics — would sense the realism.
“After they saw it, they said, ‘Wow, that’s so cool,’” Miss Downey said with a smile.