Sam Neill to play Josephus in The Dovekeepers

samneillVarious news sites are reporting today that Sam Neill has joined the cast of The Dovekeepers, the upcoming miniseries about four Jewish women who live in Masada during the Roman siege of that fortress in the first century AD.

Neill will play Josephus, the Jewish historian whose first-hand account of the Jewish-Roman War is our primary source for it. (Josephus did not fight at Masada himself, but he did lead Jewish armies against the Romans in Galilee until he surrendered and defected to the other side, serving the Romans as a translator when they destroyed Jerusalem.)

Josephus does not appear to be a character in Alice Hoffman’s original novel — his name doesn’t come up at all (except in a note on the author’s historical research) when I search inside the book at Amazon or Google Books — but apparently the miniseries will show him interviewing the few adults who survive the siege.

Many Bible films, from Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments to Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s Son of God, have padded out their stories with material from Josephus’s writings, but Josephus himself hasn’t been depicted all that often. So this would probably be the highest-profile dramatization of the character yet.

Neill has played his share of historical roles over the years, but to my knowledge, he has never appeared in anything quasi-biblical before. (The siege of Masada isn’t actually in the Bible, but it began in Judea only a decade or so after the events of the Book of Acts, so.) He did, however, play the Antichrist in The Final Conflict.

Casting news for The Dovekeepers, but what about A.D.?

diegobonetaVarious sites, including Variety, reported this week that Mexican actor Diego Boneta has been cast as one of the main male characters in The Dovekeepers, an upcoming miniseries about four Jewish women who live in the fortress of Masada when it is besieged by the Romans following the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Boneta joins the Chilean-born Cote De Pablo, who was cast as one of the four Jewish women last month.

The Dovekeepers is being produced for CBS by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, who had a huge success last year with The Bible and again this year with its big-screen spin-off, Son of God. All this casting news for The Dovekeepers gets me wondering… when will we hear any casting news for A.D., the follow-up to The Bible that Burnett and Downey are producing for NBC?

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The Bible sequel A.D. gets the green light for spring 2015

I was just finishing my last post, which partly concerned Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s recent decision to produce a mini-series about the siege of Masada for CBS, when word came over the internet that NBC had greenlit one of their other projects: a 12-hour sequel to The Bible that was once called A.D.: Beyond the Bible but now simply goes by the name A.D.

I included a brief link to that press release in my previous post, but I think it merits a blog post all its own, since it includes a few new details about the mini-series.

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Newsbites: The first-century Jewish zealot edition!

Bit of a delayed reaction here, as I was under the weather when these two news items surfaced last week.

First, The Bible producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are producing an adaptation of The Dovekeepers, an Alice Hoffman novel that takes place during the siege of Masada, which marked the end of the First Jewish-Roman War in AD 73.

Burnett and Downey are already working on a sequel to The Bible that will mix the history of the early church with secular accounts of the Jewish rebellion against the Romans, etc. But it sounds like The Dovekeepers — which follows the stories of four women who end up at Masada during the siege — will focus more narrowly on the Jewish rebellion.

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