Jerusalem of Gold will soon be making its way to the silver screen — or at least to television screens around the world. Lionsgate Television UK has acquired the rights to Simon Sebag Montefiore’s nonfiction hit “Jerusalem: the Biography, a Fresh History of the Middle East.”
The bestseller, published in 2011, is being developed into what Lionsgate touts as a “character-driven, action-filled account of war, betrayal, faith, fanaticism, slaughter, persecution and co-existence in the universal city through the ages.”
The personal tone — it’s no coincidence that the book is called a biography — can be attributed to Sebag Montefiore’s connection to the city, which goes back generations to his great-great-uncle, Sir Moses Montefiore. That philanthropist is credited with founding Mishkenot Sha’ananim, the first Jerusalem neighborhood outside of the Old City walls, and is considered a patron of both Jerusalem and early Zionism.
Sebag Montefiore has been visiting the Holy City since he was a child, and knows it well. It was also the subject of a three-part BBC documentary presented by the historian in 2011.
The author of numerous best-selling books translated into 45 languages will also be involved in the production of the upcoming show, which according to Lionsgate TV’s creative director Steve November is slated to run through several seasons.
Both November and Sebag Montefiore have said in interviews that their vision is to produce a show on an epic scale, as befits the city’s history of conquest dating back 3,000 years.
The series seems promising, and the partnership between Sebag Montefiore and Lionsgate Television UK has a particularly auspicious ring to it. After all, the company shares a name with one of the seven entrances to the Old City.