Hallmark launching 4-hour 'Noah' for NBC

NEW YORK — Hot from conquering the seas with a whale of a rating for the USA Network Patrick Stewart-starrer “Moby Dick,” Robert Halmi Sr.’s Hallmark Entertainment is headed back to the water with “Noah,” a retelling of the Noah’s ark story that will star Oscar winner Jon Voight.

Hallmark has set up the four-hour epic at NBC to air during the May sweeps in 1999. John Irvin, whose credits include “The Dogs of War” and “City of Industry,” will direct.

Voight will begin his role as the biblical figure right after he completes the Paramount film “Varsity Blues.” The “Noah” screenplay was written by Peter Barnes, whose credits include “The Ruling Class” and who recently did rewrite work on “Merlin.”

That Hallmark miniseries airs on NBC April 26-27 with a cast that includes Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson, Helena Bonham Carter and Martin Short.

For Hallmark, it’s the fourth straight megabudget miniseries. The strong run began with 1996’s “Gulliver’s Travels,” followed by 1997’s “The Odyssey” and the upcoming “Merlin.” Like those films, “Noah” is expected to carry a pricetag north of $20 million.

Voight is repped by CAA.

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