Controversial Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is taking on the Bible in his latest TV movie for NatGeo, but the executive producer says he isn’t feeling the pressure for Killing Jesus to live up to its predecessors, Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy, the two highest-rated telecasts in the network’s history.
"I don't feel pressure on Killing Jesus," O’Reilly said of the adaptation, based on his 2013 best-selling book, in an exclusive ET interview. "I just think it's so good that I hope people will check it out. I think it's one of the best TV movies ever made!"
O'Reilly didn’t talk to reporters at the TV movie's Monday premiere in New York City, and the conservative political host claims that he often feels that he is the victim of unfair media treatment.
"Not one day has the media been fair to me," O’Reilly protests. "Look, I'm the big dog here, we make a lot of money, we have a lot of power. A lot of people don't like the fact that Fox News has the highest rated cable network in the world. So, how do you get to Fox News? You come after me. So this is what I have to deal with."
Controversy followed O’Reilly even to the casting of Killing Jesus, when some of his conservative following became upset at the casting of Muslim actor Haaz Sleiman as the titular son of God.
"If anybody has a problem with Haaz... you got to come to me because they came to me, alright?" O’Reilly emphasizes, defending the choice. "Scott Free [Productions] and NatGeo [said] 'The guy who did the best audition is a Muslim! He's a young actor named Haaz Sleiman, is that going to be a problem?' and I said no. And here's why, Jesus would hire him! Jesus would hire the best actor...so that's why we hired him and he's great!"
O’Reilly will make his first non-Fox News broadcast interview appearance on The Late Show With David Letterman on Tuesday, but claims that the appearance is more about saying goodbye to the exiting host than addressing any controversy.
"I don't do a lot of press outside anymore because I simply don't have time, alright?" he says. "So Letterman, I've been on there 15 times, 16 counting this appearance. He's going away, Dave's leaving! So he asked me to come one last time and I said sure."
Watch O'Reilly and Jon Stewart take on the Brian Williams reporting controversy in the video below.