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


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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Harry Potter producer takes on revisionist Jesus movie

Last year, Lionsgate announced that they had acquired the film rights to Reza Aslan’s Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, the latest in a long line of books which argue that Jesus was just a man and that Christianity has been getting him wrong since before the first New Testament texts were written.

Today, it was revealed that two actual filmmakers have come on board to adapt the book: producer David Heyman, best known for Gravity and the Harry Potter series, and screenwriter James Schamus, whose credits include all but three of Ang Lee’s feature films.

Deadline, which broke the news, doesn’t have much else to say except that “top directors have expressed interest” in the project. Variety also covered the basic story but without saying anything about possible directors.

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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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