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Celebs: An Effort of Biblical Proportions

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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.

—Elise Soukup

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