‘Lost Tomb of Jesus’ Gets Director’s Cut DVD Release

Mar 26, 2007  •  Post A Comment

The director of Discovery Channel’s controversial “Lost Tomb of Jesus” documentary is rushing to independently release a director’s cut DVD of the program after the network yanked three “Tomb” repeats earlier this month.

Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici, who created “Lost Tomb” along with executive producer and “Titanic” director James Cameron, said one of the yanked Discovery repeats was supposed to be his 105-minute special edition, which included re-enactment scenes such as showing a pregnant Mary Magdalene that Discovery execs deemed too “sensitive” for U.S. audiences. The scene aired in other countries, he said, such as Canada.

The documentary claims to have found the family tomb of Jesus Christ, unearthed in Jerusalem. The findings include evidence suggesting Christ and Mary Magdalene were a couple, and that they had a son named Judah.

“This may be the most talked-about documentary ever,” Mr. Jacobovici said. “The fact that nobody has been able to punch a hole in our reporting is a testament to how well we’ve done our homework. Even if it’s only a 50-50 chance [of being Jesus’ tomb], it’s still the biggest story on the planet.”

Mr. Jacobovici said that while Discovery has reassured him they’re standing by the project, he’s puzzled over some of the network’s actions with regard to “Lost Tomb.”

“I really don’t understand some of the decisions they’ve made,” Mr. Jacobovici said last Friday, having just returned to the United States after a worldwide publicity tour. “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.”

After the documentary came under fire from prominent archeologists and Christian groups, Discovery took a few measures that seemed to back away from the project: pulling repeats, not releasing the program on video on demand, scheduling a panel discussion hosted by Ted Koppel criticizing the project and declining to tout its 4.1 million viewership (Discovery’s largest audience in more than a year).

“Our little reenactments, I’d put them up against [the work of] Mel Gibson and [Martin] Scorsese,” he said. “I think we had the most historically accurate reenactments. The dyes that we used were only the ones available in the time of Jesus … I’ve seen any number of crucifixion stories that have potatoes and corn in the marketplace.”

Discovery is currently promoting its critically acclaimed 11-part ecological documentary “Planet Earth.” Mr. Jacobovici hopes the network will revisit his project soon, noting that the controversy has diminished. Discovery has previously stated they support the documentary “100 percent” and offered no further comment.

“In the beginning, all you have is emotional stuff from people who haven’t seen it,” Mr. Jacobovici said. “Now you’re getting people who’ve actually seen [the documentary] or read the book and they see it’s very respectful and not anti-faith. We’re reporting a very compelling story in a reasonable way.”

Sounding a bit weary from his media tour, Mr. Jacobovici said his project received wildly different reactions in different countries.

“In Chile, there were street demonstrations trying to prevent the broadcasts,” he said. “In France, they were remarkably open to the whole idea — even though it’s a Catholic country. In Israel, people were obsessed with it, but much more from a historical point of view. In the United States, it was very split, with hundreds of thousands trying to stop it from being broadcast. On the other hand, there were people who thought Jesus was a myth and now that we’ve found [the tomb] they realize he was a living and breathing person and they’ve found that inspirational.”

In April, Mr. Jacobovici will release the director’s cut version on DVD, including new material addressing various aspects of the controversy. The DVD will be available at www.jesusfamilytomb.com.

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(Editor: Romanelli)