TCA ’15: With ‘Dovekeepers,’ Roma Downey looks to provide inspiring TV

Actors Rachel Brosnahan, left, and Cote de Pablo and executive producer Roma Downey speak during "The Dovekeepers'" panel.
Actors Rachel Brosnahan, left, and Cote de Pablo and executive producer Roma Downey speak during “The Dovekeepers’” panel.
(Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

When most people read books they like, they recommend it to a friend. When actress Roma Downey reads a book she likes, it can become a CBS event series.

Such is the case with the upcoming two-night event drama “The Dovekeepers.”

The four-hour miniseries, based on Alice Hoffman’s international bestseller, follows four women who journey to Masada separately and are faced with trying to survive the Roman siege against the Jews holding out there in AD 70.

The drama is produced by Downey’s production company LightWorkers Media. Downey serves as an executive producer, along with her veteran TV producer husband Mark Burnett.


“I was so profoundly touched by the story of a persecuted peoples who in the face of persecution, stood up for what they believed in,” Downey told reporters Monday while promoting the project at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena.

Hoffman served as a consultant on the religious miniseries, which filmed in Malta. But for fans of the book looking for a carbon TV copy of the story Hoffman presents, Downey acknowledged it won’t be so.

“I think it stays very true to the essence of the book,” Downey said. “There are many characters in the book and we have four hours.... We expand in some places and condense in others. I think that fans of this book will love it. They will see some differences, but I think everyone will be happy.”

The epic drama, which airs March 31 (after “NCIS”) and April 1, stars Cote de Pablo (“NCIS”), Rachel Brosnahan (“House of Cards”), Kathryn Prescott (“Finding Carter) and Diego Boneta (“Pretty Little Liars”).

It’s the latest project to land from Downey and Burnett’s faith-based empire. The husband-and-wife duo also have “A.D.,” a sequel to History Channel’s ratings juggernaut “The Bible,” coming to NBC. They’ve also teamed up for a new religious unscripted project on TLC that will land later this year.

It’s a genre that Downey, who spent nearly a decade starring in the CBS drama “Touched by an Angel,” sees a thirst for in the TV landscape.

“I think that we’re seeing the desire for that is back,” Downey said, noting the boffo ratings for 10-parter “The Bible” (it premiered to 13.1 million viewers). “I think [‘The Bible’s’ success] shows that people are interested in these themes and they are hungry for product that inspires.”

Twitter: @villarrealy