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"The Bible" is getting its holy sequel.
NBC announced Monday it was teaming with resident producer Mark Burnett ("The Voice," "Celebrity Apprentice") for "A.D.: Beyond the Bible" (working title), the follow-up to this spring's popular cable miniseries "The Bible" from Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey. It's the first announced project under the network's new miniseries initiative.
"NBC is thrilled to bring this highly anticipated sequel to Mark and Roma's 'The Bible' to network television," said Jennifer Salke, the network's president of entertainment, in a statement. "There was huge interest in this project within the television community and NBC is gratified by Mark's confidence in our ability to partner with him and position this miniseries as true event television."
"The Bible," oddly enough, made history on an entirely different network: History Channel. The cable network scored big with the 10-hour miniseries, which premiered to a hefty 13.1 million total viewers, according to Nielsen, back in March and wrapped Easter Sunday with nearly 12 million viewers. Since then, Burnett has hinted that a follow-up was in the works.
Burnett had been in talks with History, which is owned by the A&E Television Networks, about bringing the sequel to life there, but ultimately NBC offered a heftier paycheck, according to a source close to production.
"We are thrilled to be working with Bob, Jen and Quinn Taylor to bring the follow-up to our hit cable series 'The Bible' to broadcast television with NBC," said Burnett and Downey. "Our new series, 'A.D.: Beyond the Bible,' is another massive project and a major commitment, but it's a story that has to be told. It's a story that changed the world. We look forward to making this an enormous television event on NBC."
"A.D: Beyond the Bible" will follow the period after Jesus' death - and the ensuing unrest in the Holy Land, which seems to be of particular interest to NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt.
"I followed the development process of 'The Bible' closely with Mark and knew that the story was far from over after Christ's Crucifixion," he said. "In fact, what happened in the aftermath - which is essentially the beginning of Christianity - is utterly fascinating. The day after 'The Bible' premiered, I told Mark we were on board with no hesitation for the follow-up miniseries. This will be attention-getting in every way, and we're proud to continue our association with Mark, which has just grown exponentially from 'The Voice.'"
The series will be executive produced by "The Bible" team of Downey, Burnett and Richard Bedser. No word yet on when it will roll out.