In Belgium, the last few days on several television channels people could watch the 3 hours docudrama National Geographic Channel’s adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s book Killing Jesus.
Adapted from the book by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, writer Walon Green brings the life of Jesus to life by focusing on his role in the geopolitical landscape of his time: Romans versus Jews, the local Roman leadership (Pontious Pilate played by True Blood star Stephen Moyer), the fallout from John the Baptist’s arrest and execution, and the prevailing tensions within the Jewish power structure.
Fox News Channel star O’Reilly wrote Killing Jesus with Martin Dugard. Their two earlier books, Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln, also were adapted for NatGeo and had been the two most watched programs in the network’s history until March the 29°s Killing Jesus unveiling. Killing Kennedy nabbed 3.4 million viewers in its November 2013 launch, and Killing Lincoln had clocked 3.35 mil in February 2013. Before the Killing franchise came NatGeo’s way, NatGeo’s largest crowd came way back in August 2005 with Inside 9/11 which had logged an initial 3 mil.
Kelsey Grammer as King Herod the Great; Stephen Moyer as Pontius Pilate; Haaz Sleiman in the title role as Jesus; Rufus Sewell as Caiaphas; Emmanuelle Chriqui as Herodia; Eoin Macken as Antipas; and John Rhys Davies as Annas could get on March 29 3.7 million viewers across that Sunday night — the biggest audience in history with this product which was hailed by critics as “gritty and moving,” “beautifully subtle,” “compelling” and “thoughtful”. The channel noted that the 8 PM premiere’s 1.0 rating in adults 25-54 is the highest rating for that demo since the net’s November 2013 premiere of O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy, which clocked a 1.1, and 300% higher than NatGeo’s Sunday 8-11 PM average this calendar year..