By G.H. Harding

Mark Burnett

Roma Downey
HOT JESUS --- Tonight concludes the record breaking miniseries of the History Channel's, The Bible. Produced by reality-show kingpin Mark Burnett, and wife, Roma Downey, it updates perhaps the greatest story ever told. Some 12 million viewers watched the first two Sunday episodes, immediately setting a significant cable-TV record for the channel and provoking a dialogue unlike most other cable-minis series produce. Many of the theories put forth commented on the fact that Burnett/Downey had commissioned original contemporary music produced for the epic series, thus giving it a modern feel. A commentary in the Dessert News produced the quote: "Faith-based programming is entirely absent from network television, and movies that don’t treat religious people as hypocrites or human punch lines seem to rarely make their way into the local cinema.” The actor who portrays Jesus, Diego Merged, has become something of a cause celebre, with a web site, entitled Hot Jesus, being set up. Talk about timing, a new media company, Event bookazines, fronted by media-savvy publishing magnet Tony Seidl, has just released a new title called The Book of Miracles; edited by Liza Lentini; the magazine has sold-through their initial run and according to sources at the company, going back for its second printing. Says Lentini, “Everyone wants to believe in miracles. From Fatima to Lourdes, Guadalupe to Gietrzwald, witnesses the world over hold steadfast that they have experienced the impossible.” We’d be remiss in not mentioning, that this series did receive some unwanted early ink regarding the actor who portrays Satan bore an eerie resemblance to Barack Obama, but, other than that has been a barn-storm winner. Adds Burnett about tonights, Easter finale, “This was important to our hearts. We believe in the Bible. We believe in Jesus, and that’s the No. 1 subject right now in America and that’s great!”

RAMONE PASSES --- One of the most unexpected surprises of the weekend was the passing of prolific record producer Phil Ramone at 79. He suffered an aortic aneurysm in February, and was still hospitalized when he passed. His work with artists like Billy Joel (his landmark 52nd street circa 1980) and Paul Simon (his 1976 album Still Crazy After All these Years and last years, So Beautiful, So What) were just exemplary work. In his terrific memoir from 2007, Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music, Ramone compared his work as a record producer as roughly “Equivalent to that of a film director, creating and managing an environment in which to coax the best work out of his performers. But, unlike a director, the record producer toils in anonymity; we ply our craft deep into the night, behind locked doors. And, with few exceptions, the fruit of our labor is seldom launched with the glitzy fanfare of a Hollywood premiere.” Publicist-pasha David Salidor had two interesting encounters with Ramone: “Around 1975 or so, he got the chance to work at his A&R Studios on 52nd street in NYC and on a few occasions he'd drift into our sessions, listen to what we were doing and offer suggestions to Dave Smith, our engineer. As this was my first producing session, I was blown away first by him coming in and second, offering suggestions that we most definitely would go on to use. It was like a textbook lesson in the business. I also was with him when his wife, Karen, had a record that was being mixed by John Jellybean Benitez. Again, he didn't say all that much, but what he did, with John, was totally on track.”