Actress Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, her husband and acclaimed television producer, attended their first NASCAR race as grand marshals for the STP Gas Booster 500 in April at Martinsville Speedway. Downey, known for her leading role as Monica in the TV series "Touched by an Angel," is fresh from her role as Mother Mary on the highly rated docu-drama "The Bible," which she co-produced with her husband for the History Channel. Burnett, named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World, is best known for his work in producing reality shows "Survivor," "Celebrity Apprentice," and "The Voice." The two met in 2004 and were married in 2007.
Downey and Burnett took time out from their pre-race obligations to speak with NASCAR.com at Martinsville before the race.
Three words: NASCAR reality show.
Burnett: I've worked on many versions of trying to come up with a NASCAR show, and I've spent a lot of time talking with NASCAR about it, and maybe one day, it will happen. It's kind of like "Days of Thunder: The Reality Show."
And this is your first NASCAR experience?
Burnett: I've seen it on TV a hundred times, but this is our first live one. We're brand new. We were just hanging out with Marcos Ambrose and he's a great guy.
Downey: And I'm going to be cheering for Miss Danica (Patrick), of course. A pioneer woman -- she's extraordinary, doing it for the girls.
Burnett: There's a lot of girl power there, definitely.
Ever have an opportunity to drive a race car?
Burnett: We absolutely do, as a family out in California. The whole family goes. My wife's fast on the race track.
When did you realize that devoting yourselves to charitable causes was your calling, and how rewarding has it been to both of you?
Downey: Specifically, with regards to "The Bible," we've been on this journey for four years. That came in as an opportunity to work together that we believe in and we've loved. It's been an extraordinary adventure. We've been overwhelmed and humbled and thrilled by the response to it.
Burnett: It's been amazing. One humorous thing to us is certain people in our business may be rolling their eyes a little bit and saying, "Are people going to really watch 'The Bible' on prime-time TV?' And Roma and I said 'Absolutely.' And what happened? No. 1 new cable series of the year.
What's been your impression of the festival atmosphere at the race track?
Downey: How fun is this to be here? We have our kids here with us and we're all getting in the spirit of the excitement of the day, from driving in this morning and seeing people camped beside the road. It's a whole happening here.
You mentioned Danica earlier: What would it take to get her onto "Celebrity Apprentice"?
Burnett: We'd love to have Danica and we've spoken to Danica's people a number of times. It's just schedules. She's a busy woman, but I'm sure she'd love to do it. It's the charity -- millions gets raised on "Celebrity Apprentice" each year for charity. And when the show ends, millions more continue to come in. So I'm sure it's something Danica would love to do, but it's just the scheduling.
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