Osteens throw support behind History Channel's upcoming TV series on Bible

February 27, 2013 5:30:20 PM PST
What does the guru of reality television have in common with one of the nation's most popular preachers? The answer is coming to a TV screen near you, and just in time for Easter.

It's a surprising friendship, Lakewood's Joel and Victoria Osteen and Mark Burnett, king of reality TV. His first big success was "Survivor," which helped start the genre, and his current hits include ABC's "Shark Tank."

"We don't make shows like 'Honey Boo Boo' or 'Real Housewives'," Burnett said. "We are interested in uplifting, positive shows."

While some debate whether any reality show is uplifting, he maintains...

"'Survivor' is full of faith. What do you think Redemption Island was?" Burnett said.

But there's no debate when it comes to his latest project with his actress wife, Roma Downey. She's best known for her TV series "Touched By An Angel." Now, they want audiences to be touched by the Bible, in all its glory.

"No one's ever tried to tell this sweeping story from Genesis to Revelations," Burnett said.

"We have Jesus walking on water, Daniel and the lions, Moses parts the Red Sea, the burning bush," Downey said.

The Bible has been done before, of course, but their three teenagers weren't impressed with the old classics.

"Because it's 50 years old, with no disrespect. It's just that we now have available to us the latest and greatest. We were able to use all that technology," Downey said.

A labor of love for more than three years and many millions of dollars, they turned to friends like the Osteens for advice.

"We'd get emails in the middle of the night, 'I'm shooting this in the morning, could you give me your opinion?'" Joel Osteen said.

"Or, 'Pray, pray' when they were casting. 'We're casting Jesus. Pray that we get the right Jesus,'" Victoria Osteen said.

The Osteens even visited their movie set in Morocco last summer, and they invited other ministers to preview the series at Lakewood last month.

"We think it's a movie that will show the Bible and Christ to a new generation," Joel Osteen said.

They believe the faithful won't be the only ones tuning in.

"I see this movie as opening the door to somebody that wasn't raised in church like me and make the Bible practical and relevant," Joel Osteen said.

This is Burnett's first scripted drama. But for this couple, it's all about a new kind of reality TV.

"To shine the light where the light has never shone before. And we see that as the opportunity here, that this series really will go all around the world, and people whose stories we may never know, but whose lives really will be changed from seeing the Bible," Downey said.

The 10-hour mini-series begins March 3 on the History Channel and runs through Easter Sunday.

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