CBS will host a four-hour special-event series next year called “THE DOVEKEEPERS,” a project from Executive Producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. That series began production today, according to the latest update from the network.
The series is based on Alice Hoffman’s popular Historical novel, it follows the lives of a small group of women, all with intersecting storylines that fight to survive during the Siege of Masada in 70 C.E. Production began today in Malta, the series will star Cote de Pablo, Rachel Brosnahan and Kathryn Prescott in the title dovekeeper roles. The series is based on Alice Hoffman’s acclaimed historical novel about a group of extraordinary women whose lives intersect in a fight for survival at the siege of Masada. Diego Boneta also stars.
“Mark and I are absolutely thrilled to finally see Alice Hoffman’s beautiful story come to life,” said executive producer Roma Downey. “This is a remarkable opportunity to see these wonderful actors bring their unique gifts to these significant rolls. We look forward to sharing this epic television event with the CBS audience.”
Set in ancient Israel, THE DOVEKEEPERS is based on the true events at Masada in 70 C.E. After being forced out of their home in Jerusalem by the Romans, 900 Jews were ensconced in a fortress at Masada, a mountain in the Judean desert. Besieged at Masada, the Jews held out for months against the vast Roman armies. The project will recount the events from the perspective of a few extraordinary women who arrive at Masada with unique backstories, but a common bond for survival. Additionally, these women, who work together daily as dovekeepers, are all concealing substantial secrets.
Cote de Pablo (NCIS, “The 33”) plays Shirah, a sensual, mysterious and fiercely independent single mother with uncanny insights and a quiet, mysterious power. She is derided by many as the “Witch of Moab,” as she covertly practices forbidden ancient rites of magic and is keenly knowledgeable about herbal remedies. Still, those in need don’t hesitate to approach her for her help and generosity of spirit.
Rachel Brosnahan (“Manhattan,” “House of Cards”) plays Yael, a beautiful and fearless young woman whose mother died in childbirth, and whose father forever blames her for that loss. During the dangerous journey they make together through the desert, Yael has a whirlwind romance which will haunt her life even after they arrive at Masada. Yet Yael is able to find comfort from her supportive warrior brother, Amram, and kinship from her fellow dovekeeper, Shirah.
Kathryn Prescott (“Finding Carter,” “Skins”) portrays Aziza, a stunning teenaged tomboy and expert archer who disguises herself in her brother’s armor and skillfully fights alongside the male warriors of Masada, tricking even her lover and fellow warrior, Amram. Masquerading as a male is not at all foreign to Aziza, whose mother, Shirah, raised her as a boy prior to their time at Masada as a means of keeping her safe.
Diego Boneta (“Rock of Ages,” “Pele”) plays Amram, who followed in his father’s footsteps as an assassin in Jerusalem and, later, becomes one of the star warriors of the Jewish army at Masada.
Hoffman’s novel was published in 2011 by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, earning the New York Times’ bestseller status and widespread critical acclaim, including being hailed by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison as “a major contribution to 21st century literature.”
THE DOVEKEEPERS will be brought to television from executive producers Roma Downey and multiple Emmy Award winner Mark Burnett (SURVIVOR, “The Voice”), the production team behind the Emmy-nominated 10-hour miniseries “The Bible,” which scored big ratings for the History Channel in March 2013, and the feature “Son of God.”
Frank Siracusa, John Weber and Yves Simoneau also serve as executive producers, with Simoneau directing. Ann Peacock is adapting the novel for the screen.
THE DOVEKEEPERS is the first project from CBS Entertainment and CBS Television Studios’ Limited Series and Event Programming unit. It is a co-production between CBS Television Studios and LightWorkers Media, a division of United Artists Media Group.