The National Geographic Channel is switching its attentions from the assassinations of presidents, to the assassination of religious figures – with a four hour mini-series adaptation of the 2013 book Killing Jesus, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. As the follow-up to the successful TV versions of their earlier books, Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, the project will be written and executive produced by Walon Green (Law & Order: Criminal Intent), with Christopher Menaul (Summer In February) in the director’s chair.
This re-telling of the life and death of Jesus is set against the backdrop of intense conflict within the Roman Empire, and will now star multiple Emmy award-winner Kelsey Grammer (The Expendables 3) as King Herod – “the unrelenting and ambitious Roman King of Judea, who attempted to kill Jesus at his birth.” Stephen Moyer (True Blood) will feature as Pontius Pilate – the fifth prefect of Judaea, and the man who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. Rufus Sewell (Hercules) and John Rhys Davies (Once Upon A Time) will also star alongside Haaz Sleiman (Covert Affairs), who has been cast in the role of Jesus.
Author Bill O’Reilly is set to executive produce the mini-series once again, re-teaming with Scott Free Productions in order to do so. Hopes are high for this latest effort, and it is expected to follow the trend of Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln, which currently stand as the first and second most watched shows in the history of the National Geographic Channel, respectively. Whether it will prove more controversial remains to be seen, however.
This look at the story of Jesus and the Crucifixion may come from a noticeably conservative angle – being on the Fox-owned National Geographic Channel and being originated by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. On publication, the source material was noted by critics to reflect conservative attitudes toward large governments and wide-ranging taxation. We will find out whether the TV adaptation of Killing Jesus does the same job of applying the biblical story to modern-day politics when it airs in 2015.