CBS has God in its primetime lineup, and NBC might get Jesus.
The peacock network is developing a drama called "The Book of Daniel"—featuring a modern-day Jesus who helps a troubled minister—as a potential addition to its 2005-06 roster of shows, according to a Reuters article.
NBC unveiled the drama at a gathering of advertisers in Burbank, Calif., March 17.
Kevin Reilly, NBC's entertainment president, told Reuters the network was in "uncharted waters" with the show, even though he also said "Daniel" was partially inspired by the success of other religion-themed media products like the Left Behind book series and the movie "The Passion of the Christ."
"It certainly stirs people's passions and stirs opinions," Reilly said of the show, "and if we do it right, with quality, I think there's millions and millions of people who would say, 'Hey, that's what I've been looking for on television."'
CBS currently airs a similar series called "Joan of Arcadia" on Friday nights. In that drama, a high-school girl named Joan (Amber Tamblyn) is visited by God in a variety of guises: a cute guy, the lunch lady, a little girl and so forth.
"Joan" debuted on CBS in 2003, just as the network's popular and long-running "Touched by an Angel" was going off the air.
NBC broadcast a mini-series called "Noah's Ark" in 1999, which was largely dismissed for diverging too much from the Genesis account of the flood. The network took on faith again in an animated comedy called "God, the Devil and Bob" in 2000. Poor ratings killed the show after a few episodes.
NBC will broadcast a mini-series called "Revelations" in April. The six-hour series features an astrophysicist and a nun who join forces to determine if the apocalypse is upon them and if it may be delayed.
In "Daniel," Aidan Quinn ("Benny & Joon," "Legends of the Fall") stars as an Episcopal priest managing family conflict, church politics and an addition to painkillers. Oscar winner Ellen Burstyn ("Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore") plays a church superior and Garrett Dillahunt ("ER," "Deadwood," "CSI") appears as the hip Jesus.
The show is written and executively produced by Jack Kenny, co-creator of TV's "Titus," according to a Media Gab story.
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.