Tag Archives: History Channel

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.”


‘Around the World in 80 Ways’ Turned into Global Squabble for Dennis Anderson and ‘Boston Rob’ Mariano

Dennis Anderson, 'Boston Rob' Mariano History Channel photo

“Survivor” winner “Boston Rob” Mariano and monster truck racing champ Dennis Anderson apparently aren’t kidding when they say that in-fighting between the two of them turned out to be the toughest obstacle involved in their Oct. 2-debuting History Channel show, “Around the World in 80 Ways.”  They can barely make it through a conference call without taking potshots at each other.

“Can you say ‘Pain in the a–‘ in print?” asks Rob at one point.

“Go to h—, Rob,” says Dennis at another. 

It’s not a competition show.  They’re co-hosts.

Dennis tells of a time when he was in a basket 300 feet above ground, suspended from a crane — and Rob convinced the crane operators to go have lunch, leaving him stranded, knowing heights bothered him. 

“Rob ——s me off throughout the show,” he says.  “He was constantly setting stakes — ‘Let’s race’ – when I wanted to focus on the ultimate objective.  He will bend the rules and he thinks out of the box.  He would find a step so simple, I would feel this internal anger I could barely choke down.  But I was able to give him a taste of his own medicine along the way.”

“He’s talking like this because we’re calling from two different cities,” informs Rob, who is calling fromMassachusetts, while Dennis is inNorth Carolina.

“When you spend 24/7 with someone, you’re going to have ups and downs.  I can see how I may have gotten to him at times,” Rob admits.  “He got to me, too.  But when we had good times, we really enjoyed it.  Dennis had never gone out of the country before this trip.  To go around the world on a 10 1/2 week adventure as your first international trip?  I’m proud of him, how far he came from the beginning.  Honestly, there were times I didn’t know if he would make it through the whole time.  I’ll give the guy one thing: he can fix anything if it has an engine.  We were in a situation inIndia, I don’t know how we would have gotten out of it if it hadn’t been for him.” 

He says their relationship was really “love/hate.”  Dennis agrees and says that sometimes Rob “reminded me of an aggravating little brother.”

“Around the World in 80 Ways” is both the title and the directive of this latest series from manly man TV producer Thom Beers (“Deadliest Catch,” “Ice Road Truckers,” etc.).  The duo had to circumnavigate the globe using a fantastic array of different forms of transportation, never repeating.  Rob and Dennis certainly had more than enough challenges without their internal battles.     

They did zip lines through mountainous passes in Peru, got down from the roof of a Sao Paulo skyscraper on a window washer’s rig.  They sailed rickety dugout boats of ancient style, rode camels and drove a Model T.  They were nearly charged by hippos in Africa as their camera/production team looked on helplessly from a different boat.  “Dennis got our boat going just in time,” says Rob.  Rob water-skied — towed by a helicopter.  That was Dennis’ idea.  “It was supposed to be payback for something he did to me,” says Dennis.  But as it turned out, Rob loved it.

‘American Restoration’s’ Rick Dale Loves Bringing Back ‘People’s Histories’

Rick Dale History Channel photo

With “Pawn Stars” a runaway hit for The History Channel, its amiable spinoff, “American Restoration,” is bound to be welcomed, too.  The show that debuted with a quick four episodes last fall returns April 15 with a new set of half-hour episodes, showcasing the work of Rick Dale, who brings myriad items from the past back to their full glory.  There’s also his lively crew, including his cute, dual hair-color-sporting teenage son.  And, of course, there’s all their interesting stuff.

According to Dale, his intake of items has increased dramatically since his TV exposure began.  Even from his first “Pawn Star” appearances, “People have been sending me stuff.  You’d be really surprised how many things out there need restoring,” he says.  Those things have included arcade rides, barber poles, mail boxes, a Punch-a-Bag amusement park attraction, an X-Ray shoe fitting machine, a fuel oil delivery wagon from the early 1900s for which Dale sought help from Amish woodworkers to restore.  Then there was the instant coffee machine from the 1940s.

“The mechanics were very, very complex,” he notes.  “I was born in Southern California, but moved to Las Vegas and this machine had to have come from the first hotel ever here, so it had all that history.  I put it together and put wild paint on it, going back to the frontier days of Vegas.  I put a lot of heart into it.”

Dale’s fondness for restoring things began at age nine, when his father give him a bike that was “a junker.  He said, ‘If you want a bike, you have to fix it’ — and he helped me with the process a lot.”  Next came a soap box derby car.  A few years later came a motorcycle, then a car.  “Everything he bought me was a pile of crap,” Dale relates — which he would then transform into a gem.

Now his greatest satisfaction comes from the fact “I’m capable — or allowed — to restore people’s histories.  There are things in people’s lives that mean so much to them — maybe something their grandfather owned, something sacred to them.  When they come in and see it all finished, they cry, they break down.  It’s an amazing feeling.”

Larry the Cable Guy Wants to Show Off Good Americans

Larry the Cable Guy History Channel photo

Larry the Cable Guy understands that he isn’t an obvious fit for his latest television home.  In fact, declares the Blue Collar Comedy stalwart, “When I tell people I’m going to be on The History Channel, it’s like Charlie Sheen saying he’s doing commercials for eHarmony.com.”

Well, it’s not THAT bad a fit.  Larry’s “Only in America,” debuting Feb. 8, has him traversing the nation, lending his comedic presence to an exploration of the history behind assorted Americana.  (E.g.: What government action led to NASCAR?  Prohibition.)  Along the way, he found himself jumping a frog in Calaveras Country, being pulled behind a boat in a lawn chair mounted on water skis, and being rolled around inside a barrel by a bull in a rodeo ring.

Larry tells us he wanted to do more than discover the history behind some of our all-American stuff and nonsense, however.  He recounts that when he met with History Channel brass about the prospective show, he told them, “I want to show the people themselves — the good Americans out there.”  In his act, he talks about feeling great since he quit watching the news, which “only covers the bad aspects of daily life.  It makes you think kids are all bad, people are all bad.  The great majority of Americans are just trying to get along, working together, eating together — red, black, yellow, green, it doesn’t matter.  We’re a melting pot.  That’s what makes this such a great culture.  So that’s what I did, showed as many people as I could in big towns and small towns.”

Not to mention the USS Nimitz and the Marines doing a storm-the-beach exercise.  “It was really cool.  When you think of all these people who are doing things like that, who are in charge of keeping us safe — they’re all 18, 19 years old and they’re so good at what they do and so disciplined.  It restores your faith in youth to see these young men and women.”

MEANWHILE:  Larry is in the middle of a long string of concert dates with cohorts Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall.  And he has Pixar’s “Cars 2” coming out this June, with his popular rusty tow truck, Mater, in a much-expanded role from the first movie.

“It is a big part for him.  ‘Cars 2′ is an action movie — a 180 degree turnaround from the other one,” says the man whose children refer to the character as Daddy Mater.  “I just saw a three-minute clip the other day and it had four or five good belly laughs in it.  I just couldn’t stop laughing.  It’s really cool that Mater is the focal point.”

As for his feelings about this great run of work?  “I’ve got mixed feelings about it,” he admits.  “I love doing it all these projects, but on the other hand, I wish I had a week at home now and then to hang with the kids.  And while I’m on the road, I do get tired.”

But there’s no rest stop in sight for ol’ Mater.

“Tomorrow I have voiceovers to do, the next day promotions.  The day after Super Bowl Sunday, I head to Orlando, Florida to start shooting ‘Tooth Fairy 2.’  At least I’ll be in one spot for awhile.”