Mark Burnett, Roma Downey Prepping Miracle Drama 'Messiah' for Netflix

The scripted drama is in early development at the streaming giant and has been preapproved for a California Film Commission tax credit.
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey

Add Mark Burnett and Roma Downey to the list of talent turning to Netflix.

The Bible and Survivor mastermind and his wife and producing partner are readying a modern-day biblical drama for the streaming giant, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Messiah chronicles the modern world's reaction to a man who first appears in the Middle East and seems to be performing miracles.

The scripted drama has already been preapproved for a California Film Commission tax credit, though it's considered unlikely to use that given Messiah's early timing. Sources tell THR that the project is in early development; a script still needs to be written. 

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 executive produces alongside Burnett, Downey and Andrew Deane. The project is being produced in-house at Netflix. MGM Television, where Burnett serves as president, is not attached.

The streamer does not operate under the traditional development process of script to pilot to series, instead opting to go directly to series on fully formed ideas. That is still the case, despite Messiah's early development status, as it is still being eyed as a standard straight-to-series order at Netflix. The drama was preemptively submitted for a tax credit, and in the event that scripts are completed on time, it would film in Los Angeles.  

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.