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In Movies & TV Commentary

Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado portrays Jesus in "Son of God," a film produced by the team behind "The Bible" mini-series that ran on the History Channel.

"Son of God" film presented by "The Bible" mini-series producers

When reality show producer Mark Burnett and his actress wife, Roma Downey, produced "The Bible" for the History Channel, they learned a couple of things.

First was that the classic films telling stories from the bestselling book of all time was not cutting it with younger generation film-goers, and there was a need for a contemporary production.

And, more importantly, there is an audience craving more Christianity-based programs. Burnett and Downey's five-part mini-series was a ratings success on the cable channel and the following DVD sales were strong throughout the country.

The production side of Burnett's firm went into high gear to create the new "Son of God" movie, which reaches theaters on Friday. The film, "is told with the scope and scale of an action epic," the release materials reported.

"The film features powerful performances, biblical locales, stunning visual effects and a rich orchestral score from Oscar-winner Hans Zimmer."

Basically, Burnett and Downey are producing a film that goes into greater detail of the life of Jesus, from what was presented in the mini-series on the History Channel. Downey plays Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is portrayed by Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado.

In the media world, the film isn't getting much coverage, and marketing dollars have been pulled away from what we would consider the traditional run of television ads.

Instead, the producers put together a full website that promotes and presents the highlights of the film. But there is also a companion website that features elements for promotion of group trips to see the film and Bible study guides for churches. The producers are counting on the church-going public to provide the main promotion of the film.

It's an interesting approach that may reinforce the high ratings numbers the mini-series brought in.

Closer to home, Marcus Theaters announced that some of its theaters will present a Spanish language version of "Son of God."

"The Hispanic community is a valued segment of our customer base," said Rolando B. Rodriguez, president and CEO of Marcus Theaters.

"We are pleased to be able to provide our guests with the option of watching a first-run film like 'Son of God' in either Spanish or English. Marcus Theaters will continue to look for opportunities to give our customers that choice."

The Spanish language version will run at 1 and 5 p.m. on March 2 at Marcus South Shore Cinema, 7261 S. 13th St., in Oak Creek, and at Marcus Southgate Cinema, 3330 S. 30th St.

NEW PRODUCER: PBS "NewsHour" has named Domenico Montanaro as the show's new political editor and senior producer.

Previously, Montanaro serves as the deputy political editor at NBC News, and he has worked for NBC's Washington bureau for the past seven years. In those roles, the producer oversaw NBC's editorial political content online and on air, and wrote and edited "First Read," the network's political blog.

"Domenico's versatility with both television and digital reporting, and his experience supervising a staff of multimedia reporter producers make him a particularly good fit with NewsHour's political unit," said Linda Winslow, executive producer for "NewsHour."


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