15 items from 2015
[Read my more exhaustive "Killing Jesus" set report here.] Ouarzazate, Morocco. It's late October in central Morocco and Haaz Sleiman is worried about crucifixion. Because context is important, it should be noted that Sleiman is sitting in a tent on the set of National Geographic's "Killing Jesus" and he's playing Jesus. We're deep into production on the adaptation of Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard book, but director Christopher Menaul has saved perhaps the hardest scene for late in the shoot. "It's a messed up way to die," Sleiman reflects. "It's probably the most gruesome awful way to die and comparing to any other kind of torture it's like the ultimate because it's also humiliating. They have you walking naked and dragging the beam. I mean the thought of me as Haaz walking with a beam naked, nothing... It would mortified me. I mean I would be terrified. So imagine someone actually really had to go through that. »
- Daniel Fienberg
PhotosKilling Jesus First Look: Jesus’ Crucifixion Recreated for NatGeo
The three-hour event, which debuts this Sunday at 8/7c, charts the political and historical conflicts that led to Jesus’ execution. Haaz Sleiman (Covert Affairs, Nurse Jackie) stars as the titular Savior, with other cast members including True Blood‘s Stephen Moyer (as Pontius Pilate) and Frasier‘s Kelsey Grammer (as King Herod).
In the exclusive sneak peek above, Grammer’s king — unwilling to lose his throne to baby Jesus, »
Haaz Sleiman relaxes in the simple cafe of a 400-year-old casbah in tiny Tamnougalt, Morocco. Grime-streaked and dressed in a simple cloth robe, the actor is nearly beatific, having just wrapped a pivotal scene in Killing Jesus, National Geographic Channel’s latest and most ambitious epic culled from the popular book series by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. Sleiman introduces himself, then smiles and gestures at the Atlas Mountains visible through an ornately grated window and says, “Every day I am grateful, because it is overwhelmingly beautiful being here. Morocco is such a beautiful country; it feels like you are on a movie set just looking at the … Continue reading →
- Lori Acken
Ouarzazate, Morocco. Officially, the Moroccan city of Ouarzazate is nicknamed "The door of the desert," resting south of the High Atlas Mountains and on the edge of the Draa Valley. Thanks to the presence of Atlas Studios, though, Ouarzazate is perhaps more appropriately known as The Hollywood of Central Morocco, or perhaps even The Hollywood of Morocco. Ouarzazate has a population of just over 50,000, but in late October of 2014, that population includes a disproportionate number of Jesuses, Judases and an absurd number of Marys, both Jesus' mom and of the Magdalene variety. It's late October of 2014 and Ouarzazate is the beating heart of TV's Biblical world. "It's a very holy town right now," laughs Haaz Sleiman, one of the Ouarzazate Jesi -- Yes, that should be the name of a fantasy baseball team -- specifically playing the title role in National Geographic's "Killing Jesus," the project that has brought me to this region. »
- Daniel Fienberg
Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing” series brings its most inherently commercial title — “Killing Jesus” — to National Geographic Channel, and at least with this topic, nobody needs to worry about O’Reilly claiming to have been there. Produced by Ridley Scott’s company, an outfit that’s no stranger to epics, the production lends a straightforward quality to the story, and takes its name seriously, squarely focusing on the circumstances and scheming that surround Christ’s death. Along the way there are discreet miracles, but this represents a more historical approach to material that’s currently arriving in abundance, a byproduct of History’s success with “The Bible.”
Compared with other recent depictions of Jesus, this one — directed by Christopher Menaul from an adaptation by Walon Green — is perhaps most notably characterized by restraint. So while covering a good deal of ground, the filmmakers don’t linger over the ordeal of the Crucifixion in the way, »
- Brian Lowry
Holy trinity, indeed! Actors Adam Bond, Haaz Sleiman, and Juan Pablo Di Pace have one thing in common: They all play Jesus on television. What's more? The three hunky stars (crazily enough!) all filmed their roles in Morocco — at the same time! Sleiman plays the son of God in the upcoming TV movie Killing Jesus, while Bond does the same in CNN's Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery. Di Pace, for his part, donned a wig and robes for the Biblical series A.D. The Bible Continues. "The hair and [...] »
This story first appeared in the March 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. There still are a few days before the crucifixion. It's the last week of October in the scorching Moroccan desert, and the 36-day shoot for National Geographic Channel's Killing Jesus is winding down. Making his way through a dingy temple set atop a steep hillside, Jesus Christ (actor Haaz Sleiman) hurls prop coins at snickering extras and rattles a cage full of live chickens before flipping a table like he's gunning for his own reality show. The crowd gathered in the forgiving shade of video
- Michael O'Connell
One of the Bible’s most iconic moments is brought to life in TVLine’s first-look photo from National Geographic’s Killing Jesus (Sunday, March 29 at 8/7c).
RelatedTVLine Items: Spartacus Star Unveiled, NBC Plots Beyond A.D. and More
Not so long ago, the Easter holiday, as far as mainstream TV networks were concerned, was defined by ABC’s annual airing of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 epic “The Ten Commandments.” Local stations might cue up the Fred Astaire-Judy Garland chestnut “Easter Parade.”
But the success of History’s “The Bible” miniseries in 2013 has spurred networks to take a second look at Holy Week leading into Easter as a showcase for event programming. National Geographic Channel has set March 29, Palm Sunday, as the premiere date for “Killing Jesus,” the latest in the series of telepics based on historical novels by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.
CBS is airing miniseries “The Dovekeepers,” set in biblical times, over four hours on March 31 and April 1. And NBC is launching its 12-hour “A.D: The Bible Continues” series on Easter Sunday, April 5. Both “Dovekeepers” and “A.D.” hail from the producers behind “The Bible, »
- Cynthia Littleton
National Geographic Channel has some killer Palm Sunday programming lined up for you. The channel’s three-hour epic “Killing Jesus” will premiere March 29 at 8 p.m., National Geographic Channel said Wednesday. See photos: Rob Lowe Is ‘Killing Kennedy': 10 Other Actors Who Played JFK Based on the book by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, “Killing Jesus” stars Haaz Sleiman (“The Visitor”) in the title role, with Kelsey Grammer as King Herod the Great and “True Blood” alum Stephen Moyer as Pontius Pilate. The special begins in the era of Jesus’ birth and chronicles his path as he spreads his message and amasses a. »
- Tim Kenneally
After Killing Kennedy and Killing Lincoln became the two most-watched programs in National Geographic Channel’s history, the third collaboration between Nat Geo, Scott Free and book authors Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard, Killing Jesus, has a premiere date: the pic will debut on Palm Sunday, March 29. Check out the trailer that just dropped. The original plan for the movie, which stars the likes of Kelsey Grammar as King Herod, Stephen Moyer as Pontius Pilate, and Haaz Sl… »
Back in late October, I spent three days hovering in the corners of The Temple in Jerusalem, or at least perched to the sides of an elaborate set in Ouarzazate, Morocco watching production on National Geographic's "Killing Jesus." I saw Haaz Sleiman's Jesus cast out some money lenders, watched Rufus Sewell's Caiaphas try to stir a mob against Jesus and witnessed Kelsey Grammer in priestly robes go up and down the same set of steps a dozen times. The third NatGeo adaptation from Bill O'Reilly's "Killing" series was directed by Christopher Menual and written by Walon Green and its cast is about as eclectic as one could possibly imagine, featuring Vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer as Pontius Pilate), Gimli (John Rhys-Davies as Annas), Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui as Herodias) and NBC Motorcycle Doctor (Eoin Macken as Herod Antipas). I'll have much more on "Killing Jesus" as we get closer the Sunday, »
- Daniel Fienberg
"I know there are some scenes that are pretty graphic," Kelsey told Et. "I think the beheading of John the Baptist is pretty serious."
"He was very intense and confrontational at the end of his life," Bill told Et. "Jesus was a revolutionary. He really was angry, but it was a righteous anger."
Kelsey, who describes himself as a religious man, said his faith had nothing to do with his decision to play the part.
"I read the part and thought, 'Wow, I'm gone by page 8, I think. Ok, why not?'" Kelsey said.
News: Peter Meets »
Actor Haaz Sleiman was raised Muslim, and describes himself as “spiritual” today, which makes it all the more interesting that he’s playing Jesus in the National Geographic Channel movie about the son of God’s life and death — the combination of those two facts is something that certain religious groups have taken an exception to.
At Wednesday’s Television Critics Association press tour, Sleiman answered questions about his own faith with grace befitting the religious figure he portrays in Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Jesus.” Sleiman explained that the two religions aren’t as different as many people assume, »
- Tony Maglio
The Muslim-raised actor starring in National Geographic Channel's Killing Jesus has defended his casting against the notion that he's somehow inappropriate for the role. A reporter at the the Television Critics Association press tour Wednesday told actor Haaz Sleiman (Nurse Jackie, 24), an American actor who was raised in Lebanon, that some Christian conservatives weren't thrilled with his casting in the project. "In Islam, we believe Jesus is a prophet and respect him and follow his teachings and put him beside the Prophet Muhammad -- a lot of people don’t know that," Sleiman said. "As a person who was raised Muslim, »
- James Hibberd
15 items from 2015
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