David Heyman has come on board to produce a movie adaptation of Reza Aslan’s controversial “Zealot: The Life And Times Of Jesus Of Nazareth” for Lionsgate. And this one, although it’s based on the life of Jesus, has even more potential to inflame the sentiments of the faithful than “Noah” did, as the book incited considerable controversy on its publication.
The studio has also hired former Focus Features topper James Schamus to adapt Aslan’s book, which is based on what the author says are historical facts about the prophet’s life, as opposed to the miracles that Christians believe he performed. “Aslan offers a standard liberal-skeptical re-reading of Jesus,” said the National Catholic Register.
Random House Publishing Group published the work last July, with numerous Christian pundits claiming Aslan, a practicing Muslim, couldn’t possibly be qualified to write about Jesus — most notably on Fox News program “Spirited Debate” when the show’s host asked why Aslan would want to write about Jesus. The interview video was widely disseminated and led to accusations that Fox News is anti-Islam.
Lionsgate acquired the movie rights to the bestseller in December. Aslan said at the time that Lionsgate’s vision for “Zealot” is aligned with his objective in writing the book: “to illuminate the life of Jesus in a humanistic, as opposed to religious, context.”
Jeff Clifford is also producing “Zealot.”
Heyman produced the Harry Potter franchise films, “Gravity” and the upcoming Potter spinoff “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” with JK Rowling writing the script. Heyman and Clifford are also producing “The Queen Of The Tearling.”
Schamus wrote the screenplay for “The Ice Storm” and received an Oscar nomination for the script for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
News about Heyman and Schamus was first reported by Deadline.com.