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Sparks always fly when two or more projects telling the same story bubble up in Hollywood at the same time. Precedent shows that being second is the same as being last.
But a story as cherished as that of the origin of Hanukkah comes with special sensitivities, which is why Warner Bros.’ efforts to make a version with Mel Gibson have prompted nervousness and sharp criticism in certain quarters. Producer Bruce Nash, who has been working on his own version with screenwriter Scott Abbott (Introducing Dorothy Dandridge) since 2007, says his project didn’t originally arise from any competitive instinct.
“Doing this project comes from a very positive rather than a negative point of view,” Nash says. “This is not just a matter of dueling Hollywood projects.”
Nash says he has been trying to find a way to tell the Judah Maccabee story since he entered the business in 1992, and that his personal motivation predates the news that Gibson and screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct) are developing a script for Warner Bros. Just the same, Nash acknowledges that Gibson’s involvement in a rival project does trigger a protective instinct, even if it isn’t the underlying reason for doing his own.
“I’m proud of my religion and this story is about heroism, courage and sacrifice,” he says. “I thought it was an important story to share with people of all faiths. For me this project is a lifetime in the making.”
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