That CBS scheduled its Jesus: The Epic Miniseries for the pivotal May sweeps ratings period says a lot about the network's confidence in the film. The $24 million project comes highly touted by many members of the evangelical community. Sparrow Records has even released a commemorative CD, Music From and Inspired By Jesus: The Epic Miniseries, with tunes by popular Christian artists like Yolanda Adams, Steven Curtis Chapman, dc Talk, and Jaci Velasquez. It took five years for Italian producer Lorenzo Minoli to bring Jesus to television. Minoli, whose TNT Bible series featured critically acclaimed films such as Moses and Joseph, pulled the project away from TNT after the cable network tried to jazz up the Jesus story with sensational special effects, like Jesus flying. Minoli's desire to protect the sacredness of his subject is to be commended. Unfortunately, CBS's Jesus ultimately disappoints in its storytelling, history, and theology, repeating past egregious errors and going on to invent its own. Though the look of the film is authentic enough, the screenplay tries too hard to be hip and politically correct, translating Jesus into terms agreeable to the clichés of contemporary culture. The film opens with Jesus, played by Jeremy Sisto (The '60s and Clueless), already an adult, working in his dad's carpentry business. But Jesus, Joseph (Armin Mueller-Stahl) and Mary (Jacqueline Bisset) face a perplexing dilemma: When will the Son of God receive his divine marching orders? The filmmakers freely interpret the process by which Jesus comes to understand his messianic purpose, and even then it never seems that he is fully aware of the extent of his mission. There are some interesting moments. In the wilderness, Jesus is tempted ...1
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