David Janollari, the former MTV boss who pushed dramas about minors engaging in drug use and graphic sex at teenage audiences, is now producing a new prime-time series for NBC – about a Christian church.
Described as “a provocative drama” centered around a prominent Texas mega-church, NBC says that the planned series Salvation will feature “faith, family, and corruption, explored in equal measure.”
That there will be more attention given to “corruption” in the church than to “family” or “faith” is likely, given producer David Janollari’s track record on TV. Previously, Janollari was Executive Vice-President of MTV, and was responsible for shows like The Hard Times of RJ Berger, an entire series about the size of a teenage boy’s genitals (the show also featured scenes of a teenage girl’s menstrual blood splattering a boy’s face); I Just Want My Pants Back, about young twentysomethings having sex in refrigerators and attending partner-swapping sex parties; The Inbetweeners, a group of sex-crazed, foul-mouthed, incompetent teenage boys; and most notably, Skins, a grotesque program which portrayed teens as brainless, drug-addicted sex fiends, and which the Washington Post called “a repugnant, irredeemably nihilistic viewing experience [and] a new frontier in phoniness and filth.” So explicit was Skins that concerns were raised it might violate child pornography laws. Every series named above was cancelled, and the failure of Skins alone was said to have lost MTV $2 million per episode. Unsurprisingly, Janollari and the network parted company shortly thereafter.
This is the man NBC has chosen to create, not one, but TWO Christian-themed dramas. In addition to Salvation mentioned above, NBC has also committed to a drama called Conception – also produced by David Janollari — based around the idea of the Immaculate Conception.
The tremendous success of the reverent Mark Burnett/Roma Downey mini-series The Bible has “inspired” others in the entertainment industry to try to grab a piece of the pie by producing religion-themed shows. But as is typical when Hollywood tries to imitate the success of a project created from a sincere, genuine faith, the imitations inevitably fail — because believers see that they are hypocritical, phony, and shallow.
Nevertheless, more such programming is on the way. Late last year, History Channel announced that it would produce a “sequel” to The Bible (one in which neither Burnett nor Downey are involved). This “sequel” will be a horror show portraying Jesus as a wandering exorcist – and will be produced by the man behind The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. One would think that the failure of Disney/ABC’s series Good Christian Bitches might have taught the entertainment industry something.
But apparently, what Hollywood has learned from the success of The Bible is that Americans are secretly hungering for prime-time network shows trashing the Christian faith.
To contact NBC with your concerns, email NBC President of Programming Jennifer Salke at firstname.lastname@example.org