What’s old is news — or newsbites — again.
1. Variety reports that Jimmy Miller, a producer best known for Will Ferrell comedies, is going to produce “several period dramas” with Robbie and Jonathan Stamp, who are described by the newspaper as “accomplished historians, authors and documentary filmmakers.” The latter Stamp even has experience as a producer on the HBO series Rome (2005-2007).
The first collaboration between Miller and the Stamps will be an adaptation of Anabasis, “a memoir written around 400 B.C. by Xenophon, a Greek soldier who was among 10,000 elite mercenaries who attacked the Persian Empire and who led them back through hostile terrain after their leader was betrayed and slain.” Naturally, the studio, Columbia Pictures, was interested in the project partly due to the success of 300 (2006), which was loosely inspired by a battle between Greeks and Persians that took place about 80 years earlier.
The novel is part of a trilogy about the ancient Egyptian pharaohs and focuses on Nefertiti, the consort of Akhenaton, the first royal to espouse belief in a single god.
Many scholars have speculated that there may have been some sort of connection between Akhenaten’s monotheism and that practised by the ancient Hebrews, who were either slaves in Egypt under Akhenaten’s reign or had been liberated just a generation or two earlier, depending on whose chronology you follow. I know nothing about Zacco’s novel, but it would be interesting to see if he gets into that at all.
And say, this reminds me, what ever became of John Heyman’s Nefertiti, which was going to be based on a book which espoused the theory that Akhenaten and the biblical prophet Moses were one and the same person?
3. Variety and the Hollywood Reporter both say John Goodman is back on board as Pope Sergius in Pope Joan, which is based on a novel about a woman who allegedly led the Catholic church while posing as a man during the 9th century. David Wenham will play Gerold, “the lover of the titular female pontiff.”
4. Mark Goodacre reports that the British mini-series The Passion — not to be confused with Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004), which covers the same basic topic — will be coming to DVD in the UK in October. The mini-series was broadcast on the BBC last Easter, and is due to play on HBO in the United States probably sometime next year. I have no idea when or where it might be playing in Canada.