Just ahead of the Easter Sunday premiere of A.D.: The Bible Continues, NBC's Dateline will air a special episode on the making of the highly anticipated mini-series, which is the sequel to the massively successful History Channel series The Bible.
The special, titled Bible Stories: The New Blockbuster, will feature in-depth interviews with A.D.'s diverse cast members, producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, and megachurch pastors Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and more. It will also follow Downey and Burnett on their promotional tour at mega churches across the U.S.
A.D. picks up where The Bible series left off, starting with the gruesome crucifixion and glorious resurrection of Jesus that forever changed history. Each dramatic story in the series is told through the eyes of the Apostles, Pilate, Caiaphas, the Jewish Zealots and the Herod family. Using the Biblical Book of Acts and Paul's letters as its foundation, the ten-part mini series also features the birth of the church and how the body of Christ has continued to transform the world for 2,000 years.
"I think A.D. really is a very dramatic, epic series, dealing with those first couple of decades after the resurrection of Jesus," Burnett told Dateline NBC host Natalie Morales in an exclusive preview of the episode. "This series is kind of like-- House of Cards, A.D. 33 meets Game of Thrones wrapped up in the Bible."
Downey and Burnett revealed they felt called to bring the life of Jesus to the big screen about five years ago after spending time in prayer. However, at the time, it wasn't easy to convince Hollywood that it would make for good television.
"I think in those early days many people here in Hollywood thought we had lost our minds," Downey explained on Dateline, "that no one would want to see the Bible on TV."
Despite Hollywood's skepticism, God answered the couple's prayers. "The Bible" series, which aired on the History Channel in 2013, was a massive success, grossing $60 million domestically averaging over 11 million viewers per episode--by far the biggest in the cable network's history. Unsurprisingly, NBC quickly greenlighted the follow-up series.
"I think that we have felt a calling on our hearts to do this work," the Touched by an Angel actress explained. "And-- you know, as people of faith, to work on this material together has been incredible. To get to do it as a husband and wife has been extraordinary...The good news is that we're still speaking to each other."
In a separate interview with Newsmax, Burnett said his family-friendly, secular shows The Voice, Shark Tank, Survivor and The Apprentice provided him the opportunity to make the 10-hour bible miniseries, which in turn allowed he and Downey to make the movie Son of God and A.D.
"What a premiere date. It's Easter Sunday and we start with the crucifixion and resurrection. I mean, it couldn't be more appropriate," he said.
Like The Bible Series, A.D. comes with faith resources, including church kits & sermon series, viewer guide & study, that can be used to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They can be found ShareADTheSeries.com,
Christian leaders across the nation - Joel & Victoria Osteen, Bishop TD Jakes, Rick Warren, Francis Chan, Max Lucado, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Luis Palau, and many others - have endorsed the highly-anticipated release of A.D.
Bible Stories: The New Blockbuster, airs Sunday night at 8/7c.