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'Jesus Tomb' Director Rushes DVD to Market

March 26, 2007 12:00 AM

The director of Discovery Channel's controversial yet hugely popular "Lost Tomb of Jesus" documentary is rushing to release a DVD of the program after the network yanked three repeats of it earlier this month.

Filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, who created "Lost Tomb" along with executive producer and "Titanic" director James Cameron, said Discovery has reassured him it is standing by the project.

"I really don't understand some of the decisions they've made," he said last Friday. "I've been reassured as recently as this morning that they're standing beside the film. But we don't have an air date [for repeats] yet."

One of the repeats was supposed to be the 105-minute director's cut, which included re-enactment shots such as a pregnant Mary Magdalene, which Discovery execs deemed too sensitive for U.S. audiences, Mr. Jacobovici said.

The director hopes that once Discovery's current promotional push for its eco-documentary "Planet Earth" has concluded the network will revisit his film, the debut airing of which was seen by 4.1 million viewers -- the best viewership of any Discovery program in more than a year.

"This may be the most talked-about documentary ever," he said. "Even if it's only a 50-50 chance [of being Jesus' tomb], it's still the biggest story on the planet."