Mohammed bound for big screen

Zoghbi looks to remake Akkad's 'Message'

A new bigscreen version of the life of the Prophet Mohammed is being planned by one of the producers of Syrian-American helmer Mustafa Akkad’s 1977 feature “The Message.”

Oscar Zoghbi is looking to remake Akkad’s pic for contemporary auds. Ramzi Thomas (“Halloween 5”) is writing the project, tentatively titled “Messenger of Peace.” New project’s funding and production schedule has yet to be announced, but Zoghbi is hoping to lense part of the pic on location in the Saudi Arabian cities of Mecca and Medina.

“We have only the utmost respect for (the original film), but technology in cinema has advanced since the 1970s,” Zoghbi said in a statement. “This latest project will employ modern film techniques in its renewal of the first film’s core messages.”

The original pic, which was funded by Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi, starred Anthony Quinn in the role of the Prophet Mohammed’s relative Hamza.

It remains generally taboo to depict the prophet or his direct family in much of the Muslim world. Even though the prophet was never actually shown in Akkad’s film, the Stateside opening of “The Message” led a gang of Muslim extremists to lay siege to the D.C. chapter of B’nai B’rith. With more than 100 hostages inside — eventually released — the group decried the bigscreen depiction of the prophet. The incident ended, however, in the deaths of a police officer and a reporter.

In a tragic twist of fate, the Syrian-born Moustapha Akkad, who also produced all nine “Halloween” films, was killed in 2005 with his daughter in a terrorist attack by Muslim fundamentalists on a Jordan hotel that claimed the lives of 55 others.