Here’s a very, very interesting pairing — and concept: Mel Gibson and Joe Eszterhas are teaming on a Warner Bros. project to bring the biblical story of second century Jewish rebel Judah Maccabee and the tale of Hanukkah to the big screen.
Deadline reports that Gibson’s Icon Productions will produce the project, and Eszterhas will write the screenplay, with input from Gibson, who has long been fascinated with Maccabee (who was called Judah the Hammer) — so much so that he had considered this as a follow-up project to ‘The Passion of the Christ’ in 2004.
Gibson, of course, has been branded a racist, a misogynist and an anti-Semite (the latter for his anti-Jewish remarks made when arrested for a DUI in 2006), but has apologized and atoned for those sins. Still, his standing in Hollywood is a bit shaky.
Eszterhas, once one of the highest paid screenwriters in Hollywood and best known for ‘Basic Instinct’ and ‘Showgirls,’ left Tinseltown for Cleveland several years ago, where he won a bout with cancer, and has been writing books. He’s no stranger to movies that deal with issues that impact Jews: ‘Betrayed’ was about an FBI agent going after white supremacists, and ‘Music Box’ dealt with the massacre of Jews in Hungary during World War II. In 1995, Eszterhas was awarded the Emanuel Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his writings about the Holocaust in Hungary.
Quite a pairing, indeed.
And, to refresh your biblical history, here’s a brief on Hanukkah:
When Syria conquered Judea in the second century B.C., the Jewish temple in Jerusalem was sacked and services were outlawed. This fomented a revolt, led by Mattathias Maccabee, a Jewish priest, and his five sons, Jochanan, Simeon, Eleazar, Jonathan and Judah. The revolt was successful, but when the brothers went in to the temple to celebrate, there was not enough olive oil in the holy vessels to last more than one day, yet they burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare fresh oil. This “miracle” led to the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah, the festival of lights.
No word on who will direct, or if any stars have been considered for roles.