LOS ANGELES (JTA) – Two American producer-directors, on opposite coasts, are in the process of turning Yehuda Avner’s book “The Prime Ministers” into separate films.
In Los Angeles, Academy Award winner Richard Trank has started work on a documentary based on the best-seller and expects to complete the project by November 2012.
In suburban Washington, Ari Pinchot, head of Crystal City Entertainment, is scheduling a feature film, with actors portraying some of Israel’s greatest leaders. Pinchot said he hoped to develop a script by next spring, start production in the summer and complete the film, on a $10 million budget, in 2013.
In his 715-page book, the British-born Avner draws intimate portraits of the four prime ministers he served as adviser, English speechwriter and ambassador — Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin.
Such a historical tome typically do not attract filmmakers, but Avner’s writing combines the credibility and immediacy of an eyewitness with the skill of a novelist in his vivid accounts of 20 tension-filled years, from 1963 to 1983, in Israel’s history.
The book, published by Toby Press, has an impressive fan list, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Netanyahu describes the book as “a fantastic account … that provides insight into the actions of our nation’s leaders and offers important lessons for the future.” Clinton praises the book as “a sweeping tome on Israeli politics and history.”
Trank is executive producer of Moriah Films, affiliated with the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Together with Rabbi Marvin Hier, the center’s founder and dean, Trank won an Oscar for “The Long Way Home (1997).
He has just completed post-production on “It Is No Dream,” a documentary on the life of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism.
Crystal City Entertainment is a film production and financing company that partnered with Sony Pictures in the recently released “The Ides of March” with George Clooney.
Pinchot, the company’s president, said he is in the final stages of completing his film on the life of Jonathan (Yoni) Netanyahu, the prime minister’s brother who was killed while commanding Israeli rescue troops in the Entebbe operation.
Pinchot said he was spurred to make a film of "The Prime Ministers” because “this exciting book puts you in the same room with real people rather than remote icons.”