In his first night back on the air Monday after a two-week hiatus, Stephen Colbert focused on spiritual matters. As “America’s most influential Catholic,” Colbert was naturally disappointed to have missed out on covering the election of Pope Francis, but luckily there was even bigger religious news to discuss — the History channel's megahit miniseries “The Bible,” which wraps up its run this week.
While the program has been a ratings winner for the network, drawing more than 10 million viewers a week, it doesn't sound as if Colbert is much of a fan. He seemed baffled by the decision to turn the Bible into a miniseries, sarcastically claiming that “the word of God and the story of all creation doesn’t really have the legs to sustain an entire series, unlike the History channel’s 'Big Shrimpin'.'"
Colbert was equally skeptical about the casting of Roma Downey — who executive produced “The Bible” along with her husband, reality-TV magnate Mark Burnett — in the role of the Virgin Mary. “Wow, I wonder who she had to sleep with to get that part. Nobody! It’s called the Immaculate Audition,” he said.
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He also seemed bothered by the blatant commercialization of the sacred subject matter. “If you enjoy watching ‘The Bible,’ you want to explore the source material,” Colbert said, whipping out not a copy of the actual Bible but rather the promotional tie-in, “A Story of God and All of Us: A Novel Based on the Epic TV Series 'The Bible.'”
Colbert saw some irony in producing a novel based on a TV show based on the Bible. “All the biblical stories you love from the miniseries, finally assembled into one book.”
But in the end, Colbert’s biggest beef with “The Bible” was its “too hot,” “beefcake” Jesus, played by Portuguese model and soap-opera star Diogo Morgado.
“It does not project holiness when you cannot look at him without" taking the Lord's name in vain, he claimed. “We need a Jesus who suffers like us — with a spare tire, receding hairline and who only came back on Easter because he heard there was chocolate.”
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