10:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Mark Burnett, Roma Downey Miracle Drama 'Messiah' Picked Up to Series at Netflix
It's official: Netflix is moving forward with a modern-day biblical drama from The Bible producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.
Messiah, first put into development at the streaming giant in March, has been picked up for a 10-episode first season. The series, which is owned by Netflix despite Burnett's role as president of MGM Television, will premiere globally in 2019.
Messiah will explore the lines among religion, faith and politics. It will chronicle the modern world's reaction to a man who first appears in the Middle East creating a groundswell of followers around him claiming he is the Messiah. Is he sent from God or is he a dangerous fraud bent on dismantling the world's geopolitical order? The story will be told from multiple points of view, including a young CIA agent, an Israeli Shin Bet officer, a Latino preacher and his Texan daughter, a Palestinian refugee and the media, among others.
"Messiah promises to be a fascinating series for viewers of every faith, and a thrilling drama filled with multilayered characters set on a global stage," said Cindy Holland, vp originals at Netflix.
Messiah was created by Michael Petroni, whose credits include co-creating ABC's short-lived Miracles, a drama starring Skeet Ulrich that was described as a "spiritual version of The X-Files." Petroni, who brought the show to Netflix with Burnett, executive produces alongside Burnett, Downey, Andrew Deane of Industry Entertainment and James McTeigue (Sense7, V for Vendetta), with the latter set to direct.
"Messiah will have every viewer asking the question 'Is he or isn't he?' How you answer that question may reveal more about you than it does about the show. Messiah challenges us to examine what we believe and why," Petroni said.
For Burnett and Downey, the drama comes after the couple have had success exploring religion and spirituality on the scripted side following History's The Bible, its NBC follow-up A.D.: The Bible Continues and CBS' The Dovekeepers. On the unscripted side, Burnett's credits include Survivor, the Apprentice franchise and Shark Tank.
"Messiah is a series that will have the audience asking big questions. What if someone showed up in 2018 amid strange occurrences and was thought to be the Messiah? What would society do? How would the media cover him? Would millions simply quit work? Could governments collapse?" Downey and Burnett said in a joint statement. "It's a series that could change everything."