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Award-winning British historian and novelist Simon Sebag Montefiore’s non-fiction best-seller Jerusalem is getting the TV treatment.
Lionsgate Television U.K. has acquired rights to develop the critically acclaimed book into what it says will be a “character-driven, action-filled account of war, betrayal, faith, fanaticism, slaughter, persecution and co-existence in the universal city through the ages.”
Montefiore will act as consultant and exec producer alongside Lionsgate, which will produce and sell global rights, including the U.S. and U.K.
“For our first television development we could not be happier or more excited than to be working with Simon to adapt his extraordinary book,” said Lionsgate TV’s Steve November, who joined last year after a lengthy spell heading up ITV’s drama department. “Jerusalem is a compelling narrative which tells the human story of empires, nations, dynasties, politics and religions. This project will bring the story of this unique city and the people who have fought and died for it alive in an epic, dynastic television saga running through multiple seasons.”
The Jerusalem deal marks a growing focus on Lionsgate’s U.K. TV business and comes following investment in production companies Potboiler Television, Bonafide Films, Primal Media & Kindle Entertainment. It also co-financed the Channel 4 comedy Damned, which has been greenlit for a second series.
Jerusalem also marks the first major adaptation of work by Montefiore, who has fronted numerous historical TV documentary series. Other books by the author include The Romanovs, Young Stalin and Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. Catherine the Great and Potemkin: The Imperial Love Affair was optioned by Angelina Jolie in 2015.
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