'Lost Tomb of Jesus' Filmmaker Rushes His Film to DVD To Cash In

The creator of the Discovery Channel’s sensationalistic documentary supposedly finding the lost bones of Jesus is rushing his flick to DVD, since the cable channel yanked its repeats and otherwise downplayed the film after it drew harsh criticism for its extremely sketchy claims. TV Week reports that Simcha Jacobovici said one of the yanked reruns was supposed to be his "105-minute special edition, which included re-enactment scenes such as showing a pregnant Mary Magdalene" that Discovery executives deemed too "sensitive" for U.S. audiences. Maybe because it's not exactly a "re-enactment" if it's fictional? Doesn't he know The DaVinci Code is already on DVD?

"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."

Fifty-fifty? Jacobovici seems to be backing off his earlier claims that a statistician said it was a 99 percent probability that he’d found Christ’s bones in a box. Even if the story of Jesus is "the biggest story on the planet," you don’t get credit for getting the biggest story dreadfully wrong. You might get rich exploiting the biggest story for profit, but it doesn’t mean it's accurate. The film-maker claims he's puzzled by the Discovery Channel's actions:

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).

Jacobovici’s ego seems massive, saying his film is a classic, and that his critics were overemotional people who didn’t wait for the facts:

"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."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."
Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis