April 24, 2006 issue
- It's hard to find God in Hollywood. Just ask Robi Reed, who's
casting "The Bible Experience," a 70-hour audio recording of the
Old and New Testaments performed by black actors. These are no D-listers,
either. Some of the 150 artists who signed on include Blair Underwood
as Jesus, Angela Bassett as Esther, Cuba Gooding Jr. as Judas, and
Denzel Washington, who's reading the Songs of Solomon with his wife,
Pauletta. But, says Reed, "we're still looking for God."
There's no shortage of stars lining up. Though
all participants are paid only the minimum required by the American
Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Reed says 98 out of
100 artists she approached signed on. And that's not including those
who called her. That star wattage was bright enough to
get Zondervan, the nation's largest Bible publisher, onboard. "It's
going to be huge," says Zondervan publisher Paul Caminiti. The project's
already being treated as an established franchise. The New Testament
will be released this October, music inspired by the project will
be out by Easter 2007 and the Old Testament will be out by the end
of next year. There are also plans for a Spanish version. "This
isn't just a project," says Louis (Buster) Brown, who's overseeing
music. "This has taken on all the characteristics of a movement."
Even if it is currently a Godless one.