Mark Burnett is cooking up a sequel of a sort to The Bible series, but he’s keeping details of his next faith-based project to himself. “A lot of things have come our way since the Bible, that’s how the business works. Roma [Downey] and I will do a follow up to The Bible, no question to that, something big,” said Burnett today at the Produced By conference. No word if this next project on Christianity would be on the History Channel as The Bible was. The producer however did reveal that he has just finished editing a 2 hour and 15 minute feature version of the successful series focusing on the life of Jesus. He is now looking to sell it. “Just on the scripted side, I could spend the next 10 years just distributing the Bible series and the movie. I believe that in the next 15 years more people on the planet will have seen our Bible series that haven’t seen it,” added Burnett of the project he and wife Roma Downey produced with Hearst Entertainment & Syndication.
Ending on Easter Sunday, the stellar viewership and strong ratings for the 10-part The Bible ranked as the top cable entertainment telecast year-to-date and helped make History the No. 1 cable network in total audience and among Adults 25-54 for the month of March. While another Burnett series, The Voice, has hit new lows this season, the singing competition has still again proven a ratings savior for struggling NBC. Burnett also had a 25th and 26th season of Survivor on CBS, a fourth season of Shark Tank winning Friday nights for ABC, The Apprentice on NBC as well as the quickly cancelled The Job on CBS this year.
Along with the scripted Bible, Burnett also talked about his unscripted series on Sunday at the PGA event. “What made The Voice work was that it was if you took the NFL draft and let the players have their choice of teams,” he said “It’s also America’s music show and young America’s music show. The Voice adapted how young America consumes things. You have to go meet this young audience where they are, social media tweet on the screen,” he added.
“My philosophy on all these shows, as people are shooting Survivor 27 at this minute,” Burnett said, “is that viewers who buy in because they are looking for an anchor feeling, they don’t want Survivor, The Voice or Shark Tank to be totally different but keep it fresh with stories within them.” Burnett also added that while he is close friends with Simon Cowell and now departed Fox executive Mark Darnell, he doesn’t think the humiliation aspect of some reality shows like American Idol and X-Factor works anymore and that is partially why they have slipped in the ratings in recent years. “The Voice has six coaches and I know that none of them would be interested on working on a show that denigrates contestants,” he said.
In a wide-ranging 70-minute conversation, Burnett also took on the idea of how many people get to be called producers on TV shows. “It’s a matter of you, not me, but you and the Guild making a strong statement,” he told moderator and PGA National Executive Director Vance Van Patten. “There are almost no rules on how gets to be called a producer,” he added while noting that there are rules for writers, editors and directors. “You can’t be called a producer unless you’re producing,” Burnett said to Van Patten. “Get tougher about that.”
“Producers are the first person in a project and the last person out and now one pats the producers on the back. Without you there is no idea, no one is going to make it and even if it is made, you are the last one to go home, the one dealing with the marketing and the sponsors,” the self described commercial producer said. Rallying the audience in the Zanuck Theater with his motto of “Ready for anything all for one purpose,” Burnett also told them that he has a “no assholes” policy on all his projects from The Voice to Shark Tank and The Bible.