Netflix has in the works Messiah, a present-day Jesus drama series from writer Michael Petroni (The Book Thief) and producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, the duo behind History’s hit miniseries The Bible. The project, part of Burnett and Downey’s faith-based programming efforts, landed in the spotlight last week when it was approved for a big, $7.514 million California tax credit in the new series category.
Messiah was one of only five projects to get a credit in the new series field, landing one of the larger incentives alongside such high-profile entries as the upcoming Seth MacFarlane dramedy for Fox ($8.34 million), the new Alan Ball drama for HBO ($7.743 million), the HBO series Sharp Objects starring Amy Adams ($5.45 million), and Dick Wolf’s Law & Order: True Crime for NBC ($4.93 million).
Earmarked for filming in Los Angeles, Messiah — unlike the other four new series approved, which are in various stages of pre-production and production — has not been greenlighted and is in the development stage.
Created and written by Petroni, Messiah chronicles the modern world’s reaction to a man who first appears in the Middle East and seems to be performing miracles.
Petroni is executive producing with Andrew Deane of Industry Entertainment as well as Burnett and Downey through Burnett and Downey’s LightWorkers Media, a division of MGM. Petroni previously co-created and executive produced and Deane co-produced ABC’s 2003 drama series Miracles, which investigated modern miracles for the Catholic Church.
Downey and her husband Burnett have shepherded several religion-themed projects though their faith and family film and television production company LightWorkers, including the miniseries The Bible and sequel A.D.: The Bible Continues. They also recently launched, with MGM, Light TV, a new, 24-hour faith and family entertainment network in partnership with Fox stations and affiliates.