Roma Downey Mark Burnett Dovekeepers
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Historical epic about Masada siege is first project from Eye's limited series unit

CBS has greenlit production on a four-hour historical miniseries from Roma Downey and Mark Burnett based on Alice Hoffman’s 2011 novel “The Dovekeepers.”

The story chronicles the struggles of four women during the siege of Masada, when 900 Jews held off Roman soldiers for months after being forced out of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. CBS is targeting a 2015 premiere.

” ‘The Dovekeepers’ is a compelling, beautifully written novel that combines history and fiction into a timeless story of survival and heroism,” said CBS Entertainment prexy Nina Tassler. “Mark and Roma possess an amazing passion for telling biblical stories and for producing entertaining television on an event scale.”

“Dovekeepers” order is the first from CBS and CBS TV Studios’ newly created limited series and event programming arm, overseen by Stacey Mandelberg. There’s no word yet on a writer for the TV adaptation; Hoffman will serve as a consultant on the mini.

Burnett and Downey singlehandedly ignited the market for Biblical-themed epics with the success in March of the pair’s 10-hour “Bible” mini for History. “Son of God,” a revised version of Jesus Christ story from the mini, is set for release Feb. 28 as a feature from 20th Century Fox. The husband-and-wife producers are also working on a historical series for NBC.

“Dovekeepers” will be a co-production of CBS TV Studios and Downey and Burnett’s Lightworkers Media banner, which also produced “Bible.” Downey optioned the TV rights to the novel earlier this year. CBS Studios Intl. will handle worldwide distribution.

“This novel is a testament to the human spirit and how love can rise from the ashes of war,” Downey said. “It is, quite simply, an amazing story of heroism and hope, and a story that must be seen not just with the eyes but felt with the heart.”

Added Hoffman: “I am thrilled that my novel, produced by Roma Downey, who I so admire for her vision and strong commitment to the stories of women of the ancient world, will be at CBS with Nina Tassler, who is dedicated to storytelling at the highest level.”

Lightworkers Media is repped by WME.

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