Zealot screenwriter James Schamus: “It’s all about Jesus.”

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James Schamus, the former CEO of Focus Features and a frequent collaborator of Ang Lee’s, is making his directorial debut at Sundance this week with a film called Indignation — and while promoting his film, he has also talked about his work on the film adaptation of Reza Aslan’s Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, which Lionsgate is producing with Harry Potter producer David Heyman.

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Sex, diversity, accuracy and more: the Of Kings & Prophets producers speak

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Two weeks ago, I linked to a story about the sex scenes in Of Kings and Prophets and wondered how graphic they could really be, given that this series is being made for network television. Well, now we have a partial answer: the producers, speaking on a panel to promote the series yesterday, said the network might put racier versions of the episodes online, after the more censored versions have aired on television.

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Watch: Behind-the-scenes clips from Of Kings and Prophets

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Deadline reports that ABC has struck a new deal with Chris Brancato, a veteran producer of such shows as Hannibal and Narcos, and along the way it mentions that the pilot for Of Kings and Prophets — which Brancato is joining as an executive producer — “was filmed in South Africa.” Note the past tense.

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Guess who’s behind the new ABC series about King David

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The Wrap reports that ABC has ordered five new pilot episodes — basically test runs for potential full-fledged series — and one of them is biblical in nature.

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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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