Lionsgate Television UK has acquired rights to 2011 non-fiction bestseller Jerusalem which will be adapted as a drama in what marks the company’s first UK series development. Written by historian and novelist Simon Sebag Montefiore, Jerusalem is an epic biography of the city that ranges from King David’s establishment of it as his capital to the 1967 Six-Day War that led to its current formation.
The series is eyed as a character-driven, action-filled account of war, betrayal, faith, fanaticism, slaughter, persecution and co-existence in the universal city through the ages. Lionsgate will produce and sell global rights, including the U.S. and UK.
Montefiore will act as consultant and executive producer alongside Lionsgate. His other books include The Romanovs, Catherine The Great And Potemkin: The Imperial Love Affair (recently optioned by Angelina Jolie), Young Stalin and Stalin: The Court Of The Red Tsar. The deal was negotiated between Lionsgate and Georgina Capel Associates on behalf of Montefiore.
Steve November, Creative Director Lionsgate Television UK, calls the drama a “dynastic saga” that is planned over multiple seasons. November will lead the project, working in collaboration with the U.S. creative team.
The acquisition of Jerusalem marks the continued expansion of Lionsgate’s UK television business under CEO Zygi Kamasa. The company recently invested in production companies Potboiler Television, Bonafide Films, Primal Media and Kindle Entertainment, and co-financed Channel 4 comedy Damned which has been greenlit for a second series.