Newsbites: Rice! Reaping! Salomaybe! Samson!

Time to unload the last few days’ worth of stories.

1. says Good News Holdings plans to start shooting its adaptation of Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt in October — and they plan to shoot it in Israel. says no actors or directors are attached to the project yet, but “a casting search is on for the boy who will play the young messiah in the film.”

MAR 31 UPDATE: Click here for the official press release.

2. Justin Chang of Variety begins his review of The Reaping thus:

Few recent studio horror pictures have courted (or, depending on one’s perspective, pandered to) a Christian audience as blatantly as “The Reaping.” Revisiting the book of Exodus in a feverish Southern-gothic context, this lurid, often ludicrously entertaining slab of Biblesploitation builds an earnest case for spirituality in a skeptical age. As demonstrated by the thematically similar “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” there’s an audience for this kind of faith-based sensationalism, and the chance to see righteous acts of Old Testament payback spectacularly re-enacted on the bigscreen should help Warner Bros. reap solid theatrical turnout, with an even richer ancillary harvest.

3. Variety has an item on new movie company Tripod Pictures:

Los Angeles-based company, which has funding through a European bank, is in post-production on “Salomaybe?,” directed by and starring Al Pacino. Kevin Anderson, Jessica Chastain and Estelle Parsons also star in the reinterpretation of Oscar Wilde’s “Salome” produced by Barry Navidi and Robert Fox. Atoori was exec producer while Jayez co-exec produced.

Tripod is also currently in post-production on “Good God Bad Dog,” a short film that examines man’s role, significance and existence with and without God. “God” stars Tom Sizemore, James Russo, Joanna Pacula and Tim Thomerson and was produced and directed by Atoori, who co-wrote with Mitchell Cohen; Jayez exec produced.

4. The Victoria Times-Colonist says the Victoria Philharmonic Choir is putting on a production of Handel’s Samson in which the titular biblical hero will be portrayed as a suicide bomber:

While the music will not change, the setting of the oratorio will be 1946 Jerusalem, to draw comparisons to the bombing of the British headquarters at the King David Hotel by the militant Zionist group Irgun. Menachem Begin, who ordered the attack, would later become Israel’s prime minister and win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Capet says presenting Samson as a terrorist is not meant to offend, or cast blame, but to challenge our notions of what a terrorist is.

“Is there any difference between pulling down a pillar or blowing a bomb?” he asks. “Samson killed thousands of people. To show him in the traditional mythological sense does a disservice.”

Hmm. As a professor of mine once put it, Samson is in some ways not so much an ancient hero as a parody of an ancient hero — his ultimate suicide attack, as it were, is basically the best he can do after a lifetime of constantly, stupidly doing the wrong thing. So if the character already has a subversive element built into him, how much more room for subversion could there be?

5. Just for the record, I rather liked Black Snake Moan, but I can’t say I disagree with Kristen Tobey‘s analysis at Sightings:

We’re not supposed to gawk at religion, or at a naked woman beaten and in chains. But Brewer gives us license to gawk at them in tandem by making us think that we’re gawking at the other one, each in turn. And in the battle for thematic supremacy, we end up taking neither wild sexuality nor wild religiosity seriously. The film sets itself up to present sex and religion as pervasive and powerful forces, responsible for who people are and who they become — but ultimately Black Snake Moan deals with an ambiguous, tenuous kind of redemption that has little to do with either.

6. I used to listen to a fair bit of Hildegard von Bingen back in the day, so I am intrigued to learn from Variety and the Hollywood Reporter that German director Margarethe von Trotta (1975’s The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum) is preparing a film about her:

The 12th century abbess became world renowned for her medical, botanical and geological writings as well as for the music she composed, which many consider a precursor to opera.

Bingen also was a controversial figure, the first woman to write on the subject of female sexuality and, for many, the world’s first feminist.

7. The Los Angeles Times has a story on Kingdom Come, the 16th and apparently final book in the Left Behind series. Um, wait a minute, you mean that series was still going…?

8. The Associated Press reports that Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh have lost their copyright infringement lawsuit against the makers of The Da Vinci Code. But does anyone still care?

9. Variety says a British film company called Albion Productions is turning to local Christians to raise funds:

The brainchild of producer-director David Fairman and thesp Jon-Paul Gates, Albion is looking for funding for its first title, “Darkness Into Light,” the modern story of a man who goes on a quest to find the truth behind the Resurrection.

10. Epic Movie, the lowbrow Narnia spoof, comes out on DVD on May 22, in a PG-13 version and an unrated version.

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  • With all due respect to any Mormons who might amble through, I can’t help but associate any coverage of Christ’s childhood with Mormon theology.