Fox has announced it will produce a live musical version of The Passion with Tyler Perry hosting and narrating the event.
“The Passion is both wonderfully entertaining and genuinely inspirational,” says Fox Entertainment president David Madden, “We are so thrilled to have the multi-talented Tyler Perry join us for this epic music production. He is the perfect host to lead the cast — and viewers — through the streets of New Orleans in this contemporary re-telling of a timeless story.”
The Passion will be told in a modern day context: the story will start with Jesus presiding over the Last Supper followed by Judas’s betrayal, Jesus’s conviction, crucifixion, and resurrection. The story will be set at various iconic locations in New Orleans before the event climaxes with hundreds of people marching and carrying a 20-foot illuminated cross from Champion Square outside the Superdome to a live stage at Woldenburg Park on the banks of the Mississippi River. The telecast will last two hours and air live on Palm Sunday, March 20. Dick Clark Productions is teaming up with Eye2EyeMedia and Anders Media Inc. to produce.
The success of The Wiz Live! has set off a perfect storm of circumstances working for The Passion’s good. While Perry is hosting and narrating, his background in theater should be a huge asset for this type of programming. He also has a built in audience that will follow him everywhere he goes. While the cast for The Passion has yet to be announced, Perry’s role and the show’s setting signifies significant Black casting. On the Fox side, the success of Empire and Rosewood have unearthed the underserved Black demographic.
Fox made its bones by creating Black driven shows during the 90s, and now it, once again, has several Black driven shows in development, including the recently announced drama, Shots Fired and comedy series, 2 Black Dudes. Finally, Jesus’ story has always fascinated people. The most famous and successful passion presentation is The Passion of the Christ ($611 million worldwide gross) and in recent years, Christian themed movies like War Room ($67 million total gross) and The Bible miniseries on the History Channel have been massive successes. All these elements should combine for a major ratings coup for Fox and The Passion sounds like an intimate and visceral experience.
The Passion will air on Palm Sunday, March 20 on Fox.