Tomorrow, the final installment of the History Channel miniseries The Bible will air, bringing to a conclusion one of the most popular television events of this season. Don’t think that the commercial appeal of religious fare has gone unnoticed, either. The Washington Times reported last night that a new miniseries based on the New Testament is now in the works:

The ratings have spoken — and they’re telling television producers that a six-hour, $20 million miniseries on Jesus of Nazareth will prove as great a success as the recent History channel production “The Bible.”

“We believe the audience continues to have a hunger for life- and faith-affirming films,” said Michael Landon Jr., who is writing and producing the “Jesus of Nazareth” series with Brian Bird for Brad Krevoy’s MPCA, the Hollywood Reporter says. “The monumental success of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s ‘The Bible’ just underscores that.”

It’s easier to trust a name like Michael Landon Jr when in comes to presenting religious programming in a fair and straightforward light.  Color me skeptical, however, when it comes to Showtime’s new series in development, The Vatican.  Lifetime has a new reality series called Preachers’ Daughters, which seems to revel in the seamier side of the families of ministers.  It reminds one of the wise proverb — be careful what you wish for … you may get it.

Still, Landon has been proven correct by Burnett and Downey.  The public has a hunger for affirming presentations of the Bible and of religion-themed entertainment.  Even while watching The Bible from my DVR this week after my return from Rome, I found myself looking for my copies of The Ten Commandments, The Prince of Egypt, and my old VHS cassettes of the original Jesus of Nazareth miniseries. Perhaps if told in respectful ways, as Burnett and Downey did with The Bible, Hollywood might do well by doing some good.

Downey joins a couple of her castmates in this CBS interview about producing and acting in her miniseries, which concludes tomorrow night.  I especially enjoyed her teenage children’s advice on special effects before she left to start shooting the film — “Don’t make it lame!”  That’s good advice for Hollywood in the future, too.