Tag Archives: Roma Downey

Roma Downey, Mark Burnett Brace Selves for ‘Bible’ Reactions

Mark Burnett roma DowneyRoma Downey and Mark Burnett are bracing themselves for reaction to their ambitious, 10- hour History Channel adaptation of the Bible that launches this Sunday night (3/3) and runs through Easter.  “I’m sure people will hurl what they want to hurl,” the “Touched by an Angel” actress told us.  But, she added, the miniseries was made “with full hearts.”

Certainly the Burnetts and the History Channel are putting their all into pulling viewers into “The Bible,” with a full court press of promotion including: advance screenings in theaters and sports arenas; plugs from faith leaders including Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes and Maya Angelou; a huge array of support materials available to churches and individuals; a webinar; a You Tube video in which Roma asks believers to pray for the miniseries; even a kit for hosing Bible viewing parties (http://www.outreach.com/campaigns/the-bible-resources).

“We’ve had scholars and theologians help. We’re not pretending to be biblical experts,” she stressed. “We brought experts in once the scripts were created to take a look at the scripts to make sure we were accurate and true to the Bible, but obviously we’re making a movie, and so we breathed creative expansion into that.”

Roma is hoping the TV event will attract the faithful and those unfamiliar with the Bible alike. “Yes, it’s going to be a faith journey, but it’s also going to be really exciting and dynamic television,” as she put it.  The filmmakers were able to bring up-to-the-minute CGI special effects artistry to familiar stories from Noah’s ark and Moses’ parting of the Red Sea to Jesus walking on water — “Genesis to Revelation.”

The intensity of their belief in this project is such that Burnett told Variety, “I am certain that if you took ‘Survivor,’ ‘The Voice,’ ‘Shark Tank,’ ‘The Apprentice’ and all the other shows I’ve done, over the next 25 years more people will see ‘The Bible’ miniseries than all those other projects combined.”

Roma is seen in the miniseries as well as serving as an executive producer along with her husband.  She plays Mary, mother of Jesus, in scenes depicting the final chapters of his life story.

“We have a young actress of course playing Mary during the nativity and the early years of Jesus’ life, and 30 years go by.  An early version of the script referred to that as Young Mary and Old Mary and when I stepped into the role, I said, ‘You know, could we have Young Mary and Mother Mary?'” she recalled, laughing.

Perhaps there was a bit of destiny involved.  As Roma also mentioned, “My middle name is Mary.  All the girls in my family have the middle name of Mary.”    

She also told us that the making of “The Bible” proved to be a great husband-and-wife collaborative experience for her and Mark.  They toiled side-by-side in Morocco, in extreme heat and cold, dust storms and more. 

The Burnetts are, of course, quite rich and certainly did not need to make a Bible miniseries.  What drove them, Roma said, was that “The Bible fits in really with who we are and what we believe and how we live our lives.”          

The actress grew up in Derry, Ireland, was taught by nuns back in school, and today holds a masters degree in spiritual psychology from University of Santa Monica.  “It’s an extraordinary journey, to come from the Sisters of Mercy to where I am today,” she said, “and it was a great honor and a privilege for me to step into the role and to step into the project.  I think it’s going to bring the Bible alive in new and exciting ways to a lot of people.  I think it’s really going to touch another generation.”

 

Mark Steines Happy to Trade Black Tie for Blue Jeans with ‘Home & Family’

Mark Steines seems to be adapting quickly to his new role as co-host of the Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family” lifestyle show debuting this week.  Says the Emmy-winning personality who was a mainstay of “Entertainment Tonight” for 17 years, “’ET’ gifted me with all my suits from the show, but if I’m lucky, I’ll never have to wear one of them again.  I’m much happier in my jeans.  Some days I may not even shave.”
Steines, along with Paige Davis, is presiding over the series that combines the building of a 2,446-square-foot New England Colonial-style house – on the backlot of Universal Studios in California – with talk segments about all things domestic, from parenting to kitchen cabinetry.  It’s a big change for Steines after the red carpet/celebrity whirl, and that’s perfect, he says, because “part of what the show is about is how to embrace change.”
He’s getting to know his sassy cohost.  “I’ve realized I have to be careful about what I reveal about myself, because with Paige, you never know what will happen.”  Viewers can expect to see Davis’ husband, Broadway performer Patrick Page, and Steines’ wife, Miss America 1993 Leanza Cornett, turn up to sing with their mates.  Steines hasn’t forsaken the celebrity beat completely – he says he relishes the idea of doing some longer-form interviews.
“One of my last assignment with ‘ET’ was covering Les Miz, and I sat with Hugh Jackman for 20-25 minutes and we aired maybe a minute of it.  Here, we’ll have the chance to do maybe six, seven-minute pieces with guests.”
Steines relates to the family topics that will be covered on “Home & Family.”  He and his wife have two young sons, and among his current concerns is whether or not to let his 10-year-old have the air rifle he wants.  “The harder I push, the harder he’ll push.”  The host, who has been among People Magazine’s Sexiest Men, admits he’s also into such subjects as whether one is better off weighing every day.  He admits, “I weigh myself every day – sometimes two times a day.  I don’t want to let any weight gain get out of control.  I know women deal with that a lot” – and “Home & Family’s” audience will be primarily women.
FAREWELL:  The passing of Andy Williams last week marked the end of an era, and brought back myriad memories for those of us who wrote about him and interviewed him and admired his clear, soaring voice.  He was a gentleman whose personal style was widely copied — behaviorally and sartorially — in his 1960’s heyday and later years, too.  He once gave all the members of his “Andy Williams Show” crew (including Stacy’s father) custom-fitted Andy Williams-style sweaters for Christmas.  They could have been the envy of any natty dresser on “Mad Men.”
Outside of his voice, the most unforgettable thing about Andy has to have been his devotion to former wife Claudine Longet.  In the happier years of their marriage, he brought her a rose every day.  Later, when she was on trial for shooting her lover, skier Spider Sabich, Andy stayed loyally by her side to show support.  His fame spanned through the Kennedy Camelot years, the golden era of network variety shows, through the establishment of Branson, MO as an entertainment destination and beyond.  Few could match his longevity — or class.  RIP, Andy.
SPREADING HER WINGS:  “Clearly, there’s a theme going on in my life,” says Roma Downey, who of course rose to fame as angel Monica on “Touched by an Angel.”  Not only does she have a Bible mini series on its way to the History Channel next year —  she co-produced with husband Mark Burnett and plays Mary at the crucifixion — she also recently came out with a storybook Bible.  It’s part of her Little Angels kids’ series of DVDs and books.  She reports that they’re “doing great — the Little Angels brand continues to expand.”
With her own career success in addition to her husband’s, “I don’t have to work.  I’m very blessed, very fortunate.  So my passion, my purpose is to be involved with things that uplift and open people’s hearts and raise their consciousness,” she says.  “And the message, ultimately, of the Bible, the message of Jesus, is, ‘Can’t we all see that spark of light in each other which is God — respect each other and love each other and get along together?'”

Roma Downey, Mark Burnett — Touched By The Bible

Regardless of the response to Roma Downey’s and Mark Burnett’s 10-hour History Channel treatment of the Bible when it premieres next March, the project already stacks up as one of the most profound experiences of the couple’s life.  The actress immortalized by “Touched By An Angel” tells us they began filming in Morocco in February “and are just back.  We produced it together.  The opportunity for us to work together as husband and wife has been extraordinary.

“I know it’s epic, and I think it will be the must-watch event of the spring,” she adds.  “You’ll see the Red Sea parted with the latest special effects that are available.  We have Hans Zimmer creating the score…We have Noah, we have Abraham, we have Moses.  We have Jesus walking on water.  We have scenes coming to life in the extraordinary ways.  Yes, it’s going to be a faith journey, but it’s also going to be really exciting and dynamic television.”

In the course of the production, exec producers Roma and Mark and company were out in heat and sand and “all of that.  The climate was extreme.  When we started it was cold, then it was boiling — in excess of 110 degrees.  We were caught in dust storms.  And of course, during the filming, Mark was back here a lot because he as a few other things going on,” she says of the husband she clearly adores, whose many productions include “Survivor,” “Stars Earn Stripes,” “The Apprentice” and “The Voice.”

Roma had other things going on as well — including a role in the Bible series.  “I am on camera as Mary, the mother of Jesus.  We have a young actress of course playing Mary during the nativity and the early years of Jesus’ life, and 30 years go by.  An early version of the script referred to that as Young Mary and Old Mary and when I stepped into the role, I said, ‘You know, could we have Young Mary and Mother Mary?'” She laughs.  “Oh, vanity.  It was  more than I could deal with.”

She and Mark are well aware they’re treading on controversial ground, no matter how their Bible depiction is done.  “But you have to step out there,” she says.  “We are stepping out together and I’m sure people will hurl what they want to hurl.  But it is being made with full hearts. We’ve had scholars and theologians help. We’re not pretending to be biblical experts. We brought experts in once the scripts were created to take a look at the scripts to make sure we were accurate and true to the Bible, but obviously we’re making a movie, and so we breathed creative expansion into that.”

She’s hoping the TV event will attract the faithful and the Bible illiterate alike.  “I think it’s going to bring the Bible alive in new and exciting ways to a lot of people.  I think it’s really going to touch another generation,” says the actress. Covering Genesis through Revelation, the series is scheduled to conclude on Easter Sunday next year.

AND:  Roma just smiles and closes her eyes when we ask about the chances for a “Touched By An Angel” reunion movie.  It’s not on her radar, to say the least.  But she does continue her close friendship with fellow “Angel” angel Della Reese.  In fact, “She was just here at our home yesterday for lunch,” reports Roma, who lives in a spectacular seaside mansion in Malibu with Mark and their family.  The posh digs are a long way, both literally and figuratively, from Mark’s and Roma’s similarly humble backgrounds — in London and Derry, Northern Ireland, respectively.

The executive producer of the “Little Angels” animated children’s video series notes, “Clearly, there’s a theme going on in my life.  I don’t have to work.  I’m very blessed , very fortunate.  So my passion, my purpose is to be involved with things that uplift and open people’s hearts and raise their consciousness.”

Roma Downey Moves Into New Territory, On TV and in Life

Roma Downey, Marion Ross Hallmark Channel photo

Roma Downey returns to the tube this Saturday (7/16) with the Hallmark Channel Original Movie “Keeping Up With the Randalls” — which the former “Touched By An Angel” actress reports “has a little different dynamic for me, I have to say.  It has a lot of energy and it’s fast-paced fun.”

The romantic comedy about a city girl designer (Kayla Ewell of “Vampire Diaries”) who feels desperately out of place among her boyfriend’s (Thad Luckinbill) athletic, ultra-competitive clan on a family weekend, was shot in rugged hill country near Los Angeles.  Roma reports that there was a campout feeling about the proceedings on and off camera as they swam, played ball — even gathered around a campfire making S’mores and telling stories between camera setups.

“You know, you put any group of actors together and there’s great storytelling,” she says of the cast that also includes 82-year-old Marion Ross.  “There was a lovely camaraderie in this group.  Even putting the work aside, I really enjoyed the experience.  It was very heart-warming.  Marion was a delight, and the two young leads were very appealing and attractive and also very nice and kind.  Everybody was very kind to Marion, and I really appreciated that,” Roma adds.  “The younger wave of actors coming up, they really got her, and she was held in the esteem that she deserved.”

Roma admits she’s done her share of thinking about aging.  “I think throughout most of my forties, there was an awareness of getting older.  Particularly for an actress, when so much of your identity is tied up with what you do and how you look, the idea that is changing can bring up a lot of fear.  But I have felt that my spiritual practice has allowed me to embrace the changes.  I think it’s the resistance that makes the changes painful, and acceptance brings serenity.  That and a good jar of face cream,” she adds with a laugh.

The Derry-born actress has been galloping through new territory in life in recent years — with her four-year-old marriage to reality TV king Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Apprentice,” “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader,” etc.), her and Mark’s three children moving through their teens, her attainment of a masters degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica and more.

“I feel that at this time in my life, where I had been afraid of letting go, now I’m moving into a place of letting go of being afraid,” she says.

“If I believe, and I do, that all emotions condense down to love or fear, and that where one is, the other cannot be, I know that when fear comes up, as it does, inevitably, in all of us, love is like the answer.  Anything that moves your heart into a loving space — being with your children, your spouse, your dog, looking out on nature, giving thanks to God.  There’s a simplicity to it, you know?” she goes on.  “That’s not to say it answers all the problems, but to take a breath and be grateful — it can help shift you.”

David Cassidy Fan Roma Downey Saddened by His Getting Dumped on Her Husband’s Show

David Cassidy NBC photo

With “Celebrity Apprentice” competition heating up en route to the May 22 season finale, you can be sure there are some David Cassidy fans out there who continue to feel stung by the one-time teen heartthrob’s ouster at the beginning of this cycle.  One of those just might be Roma Downey, the one-time “Touched by an Angel” star  — who happens to be married to “Celebrity Apprentice” executive producer Mark Burnett.

“I was heartbroken, because I have had a major crush on David Cassidy since I was growing up in rainy, war-torn Ireland,” she confesses.  “I had a picture of David Cassidy on my wall, with Scotch tape on my little pink wallpaper, and I used to sit there looking at it and thinking, ‘Oh, David Cassidy, why won’t you come and take me away from all this?’

Roma Downey

“When Mark cast him on ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ I thought, ‘At last!  After 40 years I can finally meet David Cassidy,’ and I was planning on going in and you know, a couple of weeks into the shoot, I was calling to make my flight arrangements.  And I said, ‘I’m coming in because I want to meet David Cassidy,’ and there was this silence, because as the world now knows, he was the first one out.  They said ‘Oh well, if that’s why you’re coming in, all we can say is, don’t bother coming.’  So I never got to meet him!”

Roma, who has a Hallmark Channel Original movie comedy, “Keeping Up With the Randalls,” coming up this summer, loves to watch her husband’s reality TV fare, of course.  But as far as ever landing on such a program herself?  “I’ve learned enough to never say never, but I think there is a certain kind of personality that does very well on those things, a Type A, I guess, that is not my personality,” she says.  “I think I’d get lost in my own politeness.  I don’t think I’d be very entertaining.  I’m way too thoughtful and I don’t speak in sound bites.  I’m too Irish — I take too long to tell a story.”

We wouldn’t have her any other way.