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Tim Minear - "Miracle Man" Tv Series - Disgrace makes ’Miracle’

mercredi 14 novembre 2007, par Webmaster

Preston Downey may not be able to perform miracles on command the way, say, a member of the 700 Club might, but Downey still manages to do God’s work - somehow.

When a man in a wheelchair accuses Downey of stealing money from his sister, for example, Downey reacts like the sleazy salesman he is : He physically attacks the disabled man. But when Downey lays his hands on him, to everyone’s surprise - including Downey’s - the man in the wheelchair isn’t hurt but healed.

Downey is the tentatively named leading character in Tim Minear’s new show "Miracle Man," which was recently picked up by ABC. He’s a disgraced televangelist who has been exposed as a fraud, a fast-talking, charismatic showman who has fallen from grace when people learn he doesn’t actually have the power to perform miracles.

Yet, that’s also when God decides to use Downey as an instrument. Essentially, Minear said, the show revolves around one central question : What if God actually chose to work through someone who was faking miracles ?

God, it turns out, is not only good, but has a good sense of humor.

"It’s irony that someone who has been exposed as a fraudulent miracle worker suddenly performs a miracle," said Minear, whose previous credits include work on "The X-Files," "Lois & Clark : The New Adventures of Superman" and Fox’s short-lived "Wonderfalls."

However, "That doesn’t solve everybody’s problems ; that just complicates everybody’s lives," including Downey’s.

So far ABC has committed to just a pilot for "Miracle Man," and the role of Downey has not yet been cast. Minear said if the show sticks, he may consult religious experts as a way to further develop the program. But, he added, "it’s not an area that is unknown to me."

Minear said part of his inspiration for Downey’s character came from living through the infamous televangelist scandals of the 1980s, including Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker’s now-defunct Praise the Lord television empire.

But there’s also a personal connection for Minear, 44, who attended parochial schools as his father worked in religious broadcasting and his mother directed the church choir and taught Bible classes.

Growing up in Whittier, Calif., Minear said, he often "tried to stump the Bible teacher." He never rejected his religious roots out of anger, he said, but slowly drifted away because "there were certain questions that I couldn’t get answered to my satisfaction... I just started not to believe in anything."

Today, Minear said, he would not "categorize myself as religious," yet looks back on his pious upbringing with a sense of fondness and respect. The show, he hopes, will reflect that.

"Doing the show is an expression of longing, seeing what other people have and admiring it," he said.

The trials and travails of disgraced evangelists should easily provide enough fodder for a television drama, observers said.

Peter Evans, who works as an investigator for the Dallas-based Trinity Foundation, which functions (at least partly) as a private detective agency whose aim is to expose deceptive TV preachers, said the storyline is rich with potential.

When caught, Evans said, "most televangelists start out with denial." Most televangelists begin their careers "sincerely - believing they can help people - but they get caught up in the fame," he said.

Ole Anthony, the foundation’s president, said most televangelists usually begin with the best of intentions but "slowly but surely, they start thinking they’re special... and that’s what leads most of them astray."

Which does not mean they’re any worse than others. Teresa Blythe, a spiritual director in Tucson, Ariz., and the author of "Watching What We Watch : Prime-Time Television Through the Lens of Faith," said Downey wouldn’t be the first flawed leading man to be used by God.

Just look at the Bible’s King David, she said, who had an affair with Bathsheba, tried to cover up an out-of-wedlock pregnancy and then arranged for her husband to be killed in battle. King David, she says, is "designed to show us that God doesn’t pick the perfect person for leadership."

Minear said he doesn’t think viewers would have to be particularly religious to find questions about God interesting, especially given the "Judeo-Christian" ethic that weaves its way through American life.

"Certainly," Minear said, "televangelists are as American as apple pie."

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