NBC greenlights 'The Bible' sequel

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NBC is looking for a ratings miracle. The broadcaster has greenlit Mark Burnett’s follow-up to the producer’s mini-series sensation The Bible.

NBC has ordered the 12-hour mini-series A.D., and it’s billed as a continuation of Burnett’s previous project, which aired on History Channel earlier this year and delivered massive ratings that drowned nearly all TV rivals — including NBC. A.D. was previously announced as being in development at the network last July.

“Last year when Mark Burnett was launching The Bible on cable, I told him, without hesitation, that if he wanted to tell more of the story, we’d love to do it at NBC,” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman, NBC Entertainment. “We are firmly in the ‘event’ business and nothing has more event potential than A.D. as it continues immediately after the The Bible ended. The heft of a broadcast network, combined with the promotional arms of NBCUniversal and Comcast, will push this miniseries to a mass audience.”

“You might think the story is over at the Crucifixion, but as most of the world knows, that was only the beginning,” added Jennifer Salke, president, NBC Entertainment. “Everyone’s lives were completely altered in an instant and the immediate aftermath of Christ’s death had an impact on his disciples, his mother Mary, and key political and religious leaders of the time. In the first episode alone you see the last moments of the Crucifixion, Judas taking his own life after betraying Christ, Peter denying Jesus three times, and then the miracle of the Resurrection. We feel so fortunate to be in the hands of Mark and Roma, who have proven that the greatest story ever told is still just that.”

Once again, Burnett will executive produce along with his wife, Roma Downey. Simon Block (The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall) will write the script. “We are so thrilled to be all systems go with NBC on A.D., our follow-up to The Bible,” said Downey and Burnett in a statement. “It is the story that changed the world. Millions have died for it and billions live by it. We know that an enormous community will be counting the days until A.D. premieres. We look forward to making this an epic global television event.”

The Bible drew 13.1 million viewers when it launched in March and became a huge seller on DVD. When including seven days of DVR playback, the series averaged 13.2 million viewers per episode, and ranked as the third most-watched cable series in 2013. A.D. will most likely air in spring 2015.

What do you think? Guess there’s enough in the scripture for a sequel. Now if NBC pulls off a Bible trilogy…

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