(Washington, D.C. – August 7, 2014) National Geographic Channel (@NatGeoChannel) today announced that U.K.-based director Christopher Menaul has signed on to direct the upcoming three-hour television event Killing Jesus by Scott Free Productions. Killing Jesus is expected to premiere globally on National Geographic Channel in 2015 in 171 countries and 45 languages, and in Spanish on Nat Geo Mundo.
Killing Jesus, currently in pre-production, is scheduled to begin shooting this fall under Menaul’s direction with a teleplay from Oscar and Emmy award-winning screenwriter Walon Green, based on the global best-selling book by Bill O’Reilly. Menaul has worked extensively in television for more than 30 years, much of it in the U.K. Among his highlights are the BAFTA-winning first original Prime Suspect; The Forsyte Saga, which starred Homeland’s Damian Lewis; See No Evil: The Moors Murders, which earned him the second of his two BAFTA TV Awards; and the critically acclaimed TV movies Fatherland and The Passion of Ayn Rand.
“I’m thrilled to be joining the teams at National Geographic Channel and Scott Free to bring Killing Jesus to life,” Menaul said. “We’re already hard at work in pre-production, and feel confident we can repeat the incredible worldwide success of the previous two films in this franchise.”
Killing Jesus is from the same team behind the Emmy-nominated Killing Kennedy, including executive producers O’Reilly, Ridley Scott, David Zucker, Mary Lisio, Teri Weinberg and Charlie Parsons. For National Geographic Channel, executive vice president of programming and strategy Heather Moran also joins as an executive producer.
"Finding a new way to tell this extraordinary story is a challenge that we relish," said Moran. "We are thrilled to add Christopher and his distinctive vision to our team. Our aim is to tell the story of Jesus in an authentic, balanced and innovative way that will captivate viewers and provoke discussion."
Based on the best-selling book by O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, the film chronicles the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth, arguably the most influential man who ever lived. Jesus lived at a time when the Roman Empire dominated the Western world, and made powerful enemies while preaching a philosophy of peace and love. More than 2.2 billion people follow his teachings to this day.
Killing Jesus marks the third collaborative effort for National Geographic Channel, Scott Free Productions and Bill O’Reilly. In November 2013, National Geographic Channel aired the Scott Free production of O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy, a 2014 Emmy nominee for best television movie and the most-watched program in the channel’s history. The network’s second most-watched program is the trio’s Killing Lincoln, which aired over Presidents Day weekend in February 2013.