Emmy salvation for ‘The Bible’ as Best Miniseries?

Back in 1995, “A Woman of Independent Means” — NBC’s telefilm about the life of a flamboyant southern belle (Sally Field) — looked like the easy victor to nab the Emmy for Best Miniseries. USA Today and TV Guide predicted it would win, but “Joseph” — a biblical epic produced by TNT — pulled off an upset that caused one of the journos back in the press room to exclaim, “It’s a miracle!”

In those days cable programs didn’t seem to have a prayer against the big broadcast networks that had a stranglehold on the Emmys and the leadership of TV academy. How did “Joseph” do it?

It may have been evidence of secret divine intervention that could occur again in the race for Best Miniseries for “The Bible.”

I’m not talking here about the handiwork of the unseen hand of god. What is divine – and largely unacknowledged — is the strong religious faith of many Emmy voters. It’s absurd to buy into the cliché assumption that Hollywood is the exclusive province of heathen atheists.

Back in 2001, “Judy: Me and My Shadows” was favored to win Best Miniseries, but “Anne Frank” pulled off an upset, perhaps in part because voters were so moved by its expose of religious persecution against Jews. When “Angels in America” won the same race in 2004 as expected, it was widely seen as a victory against homophobia, but it was also a triumph for the drama’s devout Christianity.

Sometimes evidence of strong religious faith can be found in other categories – like Best Drama Actress where a star of “The Bible” was among the many people surprised when she scored two nominations for “Touched by an Angel” (1997, 1998).

Below, watch my video chat with Roma Downey in which she recalls those “Angel” bids and discusses her views of “The Bible.” 

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