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New, From The Network That Brought You Manimal...

How desperate is NBC for a hit? Desperate enough to go for the Hollywood version of a Hail Mary.

BURBANK, Calif. (Reuters) - NBC, praying for new hits as it weathers a post-"Friends" ratings slump, may soon be bringing Jesus to prime time -- not as a biblical miracle worker, but as a modern-day private savior for a pill-popping priest.

That's the scenario for "The Book of Daniel," one of several pilot dramas developed at NBC as possible additions to its 2005-2006 schedule and showcased on Thursday for a gathering for advertisers. "Daniel" is one project that NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly said he is particularly excited about, citing it as a prime example of his big new watch word in program development -- "fresh."

"I like that it's slightly provocative," he told Reuters. "We did realize that we're in uncharted waters. ... It certainly stirs people's passions and stirs opinions, and if we do it right, with quality, I think there's millions and millions of people who would say, 'Hey, that's what I've been looking for on television."'

According to NBC's promotional materials, its pilot drama depicts Jesus as a "contemporary, cool" figure who appears as a personal confidant to an Episcopal minister named Daniel Webster (Aidan Quinn), who in turn is wrestling with family issues and a dependence on prescription pills. The cast co-stars Oscar-winner Ellen Burstyn as Daniel's church superior and newcomer Garrett Dillahunt as Jesus.

Jesus, that's not exactly Must See TV now is it...

Comments (22)

I can see frameone collapse... (Below threshold)

I can see frameone collapsed on his couch, cold compress held to his head, muttering over and over, "The horror . . . the horror!

lol julie. ;-)... (Below threshold)

lol julie. ;-)

I don't see this one going ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I don't see this one going over well.

On the other hand, if this ... (Below threshold)

On the other hand, if this were a success, it would be one more feather in the hat of Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury was a freaking genius. TV news following live police chases, people watching it for entertainment, people killing themselves with pills to escape the drudgery of their lives only to be brought back by medical machinery, wall-sized televisions, and now... Jesus as a character on TV. All we need is to have him popping Mentos and winking at the camera before he throws the money changers out of the Temple.

- Co-staring Joe Pesche as ... (Below threshold)

- Co-staring Joe Pesche as the wise cracking petty money changer, Hoodilus....

2,500 years ago Buddha trie... (Below threshold)

2,500 years ago Buddha tried
2,000 years ago Jesus died
that mankind was worth saving
that every soul
counted towards the whole

Then, from outside of time
they looked upon the slime
and shrugged.

Joan of Arcadia could not b... (Below threshold)

Joan of Arcadia could not be reached for comment.

Hmmm...note they include an... (Below threshold)

Hmmm...note they include an "Episcopal minister" dealing with issues related to his spouse/children. Sarcasm begins...I bet they'll even pepper the "minister's" angst moments with issues of facing his own "bigotry" ...end sarcasm.

This'll be so clearly bogus to nearly anyone/everyone of faith as to be very offensive, one of those Hollywood attempts at being one of the people, as in, not.

I'd not be surprised if but... (Below threshold)

I'd not be surprised if but what Helen Burstyn's character suddenly discovers that, (Sarcasm begins here) there's demon in the 'savior' character! (Sarcasm ends.)

It'll work with some Old Testament perspectives, thus will be possible to produce in Hollywood, but it won't fly anywhere else.

Maybe Jesus could be a gues... (Below threshold)
Margo D:

Maybe Jesus could be a guest judge on American Idol......hmmmm

Would he do the critique in... (Below threshold)

Would he do the critique in Aramaic or ancient Hebrew?

Simon: Oh, right, Je... (Below threshold)

Simon: Oh, right, Jee -- just because you can walk on water doesn't make you a judge of talent. Go feed the multitude or something, and leave this to the professionals."

How is this "fresh" or "pro... (Below threshold)

How is this "fresh" or "provocative?" Isn't it a warmed over retread of "Joan of Arcadia?"

A friend tells me that the... (Below threshold)

A friend tells me that there once was a pilot of a show with Martin Sheen as a Jesuit priest. I am told that there were extended dialogue where said prest explained that he was in the cloth "not to do God's work, but to do good works". ((Note- I have checked IMDB and while Sheen was cast as a priest in two TV series or TV movies that I can spot on first pass, neither one of them include quptes so I cannot confirm))
...and let's not bring up the theological trainwreck that was "Torched by an Angel".

"I can see frameone collaps... (Below threshold)

"I can see frameone collapsed on his couch, cold compress held to his head, muttering over and over, "The horror . . . the horror!"

Why would I care if NBC put a show on with Jesus as a central character? I believe in free speech and the free market of ideas and programming. For the record I was not a fan of Passion but Scorsese's The Last Temptation is an American masterpiece.
Personally, I think NBC should rethink the contemporary angle. Why not do a show in the style of 24? A whole season devoted to depicting 24 hours in the life of Jesus.

But thanks for thinking of ... (Below threshold)

But thanks for thinking of me anyway, Julie.

You can tell this series is... (Below threshold)

You can tell this series is a winner which will be broadcast all the way up to its third, maybe even fourth episode, given the choice of Aidan Quinn as lead.

Is someone in NBC programmi... (Below threshold)

Is someone in NBC programming smoking crack?? "Yes, well, we're hemorraging audience share to the tune of 14% last year, so obviously the thing to do is to put on a show that is practically guaranteed to offend large swaths of red state viewers. Yeah, that's the ticket."


But for those who would equ... (Below threshold)
Lurking Observer:

But for those who would equate fundamentalist Christians with fundamentalist Muslims, note that there is unlikely to be an effort to stone to death the producers of this show, whereas any portrayal of Muhammed would likely lead to stoning (or a fatwa) against the producers.

Props to Lurk. Good point.... (Below threshold)

Props to Lurk. Good point... here's my prediction in a hypothetical universe where both a "cool Jesus" and a "cool Muhammed" show appear at the same time:

Pope JP2: "This show is offensive to Catholics and indeed Christians across the globe. Its producers should be ashamed. I call on all Catholics to boycott NBC until the show is pulled."

Mullahs on Al-Jazeera: "The holy name of Mohammed (may peace be upon him) has been defiled by the infidels! I call on all Muslims to destroy America! They must be slaughtered! Behead their wives and children and rape their dogs!"

And the Religion of Peace is...?

The whole problem with the ... (Below threshold)

The whole problem with the film and television industry is that almost all the product is created and produced in a closed society that is among the most ardently liberal that can be found anywhere. So, anyone with even a modesty about anything is denigrated, omitted, cast out, so to speak, and anyone with a conservative concept, ideal, value is abhorred and much awful, insane gossip ensues about them such that they can, in fact, "never work in that town again." Meaning, the LLL literally ruins anyone who doesn't fit in and fitting in means being ardently liberal, even communist, certainly socialist.

And the concept of "spirituality" involves being sorta ethereal, trendy and effete all at the same time while earning as much money as possible. Anything Christian is reworked into something akin to a Ten Step Meeting at an Ashram where everyone gets to speak but speak about nothing as long as no one else is offended or contradicts...you know, socialism, some standard of ethics, spirituality that is homogenized into pretty mush, but mush just the same.

So, it's no surprise that they continue to produce these failed attempts at appealing to the "spirituality" of the American audience and continue to fail because most everyone outside the entertainment industry has a certain set of immutable standards in what they believe and it's not at all dismissive and dismissable as it is in Hollywood, where whatever doesn't work is adapted to be something else. Or, not.

Which is my keen complaint about the foolish remakes of great films, the ongoing franchises, but that's another story...

There really needs to be a change in our American film and televisiion industry, one that does not choke out personal religion from personhood, an end to the gang-style hiring/firing/staffing practices that currently take place. Better yet, another entertainment industry altogether.

- "rape their goats" ..... ... (Below threshold)

- "rape their goats" ..... not dogs.... goats.... they eat dogs......






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