Book of Mormon coming to silver screen

Filmmakers plan a series of adaptations of the book’s stories
Deseret News, Nov. 1, 2002
http://www.deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,415016596,00.html
By Jeff Vice, Deseret News movie critic

If all goes as planned, the recent spate of The Book of Mormon Movie, Volume 1,” the first of a series of ambitious feature-film adaptations of stories from the book of scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But don’t look for movie stars to play the leads, filmmaker Gary Rogers says.

“I think a celebrity would actually detract,” Rogers said. “Tom Cruise playing Nephi or Jack Nicholson playing Lehi just wouldn’t work. They bring too much baggage with them, not to mention their enormous price tag.

“The Book of Mormon is the draw here, not the actors.”

Rogers, a veteran in the television industry, has written a script and will direct the first movie, which he said was inspired by Cecil B. De Mille’s Oscar-winning 1956 version of “The Ten Commandments.”

“Stories found throughout the Book of Mormon are among the greatest stories ever told,” Rogers said. “Now for the first time, you will be able to see these great stories come to life in an epic, multimillion-dollar motion picture on the silver screen.”

Rogers said his objective is to not only produce a film that is “true to the book,” but one that also has “great entertainment value” and will leave the viewer with a profound desire to read the source material. It will be the first “volume” in a series of movies that will cover events recorded in the books of Nephi.

Still, he acknowledged that it is a risky venture. “Several people have said to me that this is career suicide; 12 million people have read the book and already have a film in mind.”

But, he added, “Just as many people have told me that they have been waiting their whole life for this movie.”

The funding for the production is already in place. Rogers, the founder of International Television Productions, recently sold that company to devote his attention full time to producing “The Book of Mormon Movie.” He has also recruited independent financing.

In addition to announcing the production, Rogers held the news conference to announce an open casting session for the movie in the Salt Lake Hilton Hotel on Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Casting requirements can be found on Rogers’ Web site at www.bookofmormonmovie.com or by calling 557-3515.

The score for the film will be composed by Robert C. Bowden, former musical director of the Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus and former associate conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Plans are for Bowden to conduct the London Symphony Orchestra for the film’s soundtrack, the same orchestra used by Oscar-winning composer John Williams for the “Star Wars” scores.

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