Network Avoids Kennedy Controversy, Now Developing Series on the Bible
Predictions that the world would end this past weekend have turned out to be false. Still, that doesn't mean people should begin making Thanksgiving plans.
Controversial Christian broadcaster Harold Camping, who had forecast the May 21 Judgment Day, has taken some heat for his botched forecast. Now, he says the end is set for October.
Not much gets people worked up more than Camping's business: Biblical interpretation.
So, why would the History channel, which demonstrated some pretty thin skin in the face of opposition earlier this year, want to wade into this stuff? And, not with the Harvard Divinity School as producers, but the major domo behind "Survivor" and "The Celebrity Apprentice," who has mastered "faux reality" TV.
The Hollywood Reporter says the network is planning a 10-hour "scripted docu-drama" about the Bible with Mark Burnett as producer for 2013, assuming we're all still here.
If History bowed to critics - left-wing activists and Kennedy family allies - and yanked its planned mini-series about the Kennedy family, it will need some spine when facing a swirl of protests from all sorts of religious groups when examining the Holy Book.
As controversial as it may be, portrayals of cracks in JFK's holy matrimony or the handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis have some historical fact attached.
Breaking down biblical matters such as the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, the Exodus and Noah's Ark don't really have that going for it.
Quick background: History commissioned a scripted series about the Kennedys for this spring, but opted not to run it. The indications were it had second thoughts about the historical accuracy of the production, though there were suggestions that Kennedy family members or supporters used some pull.
The series wound up running on ReelzChannel to a much lesser audience. History parent A&E did tell the Hollywood Reporter early on that no advertisers had expressed concern.
Wait until a kerfuffle develops around "The Bible." For the most part, questions about accuracy and propriety with "The Kennedys" weren't emanating from viewers.
Religious matters? That's when religious groups of all sorts get worked up. Their furor can be based simply on rumors about what might be included in the production. Still, that can trickle down to ... advertisers.
In fairness, History executives led by president Nancy Dubuc are some of the smartest in the business. Even though, the word "scripted" was used by the Hollywood Reporter to describe the biblical project, they are well aware of the potentially incendiary subject matter.
What appears to be on tap is an attempt to take a middle-of-the-road approach to the Bible, but to jazz up the production with all sorts of cutting-edge techniques. The Holy Book can actually be a pretty dull topic, except of course for various factions with a commitment to their form of accuracy.
"This is probably the most important book in mankind, regardless of your beliefs or religious affiliation," Dubuc told the Reporter. "This series will bring the historical stories of the Bible to life for a new generation."
That's a noble goal. But if the network couldn't get past the controversy about the Kennedys, a family whose issues have been picked over for decades, how it will handle armies who view themselves as true believers. And that's from ones who think a good and gracious deity will propel the world forward to those who think the world will be done with soon.
Then again, if the end-timers are right, History may not have to worry.