Mel Gibson gets some Maccabee competition

“The war for Hanukkah is on,” declared The Hollywood Reporter in a news brief announcing a second Maccabee-inspired film helmed by producer Bruce Nash.

This comes in the aftermath of a controversial move by Warner Bros. to greenlight a Mel Gibson-produced Maccabee movie that some Jewish leaders decried as dishonorable, even immoral. Gibson, of course, is widely believed to be anti-Semitic, which may make the Nash plans a welcome development. Nash, a longtime TV producer whose company, Nash Entertainment helped spawn the reality craze with shows like “Before They Were Stars” and “Who Wants To Marry My Dad?” said he is not looking to compete with Gibson but to tell his own, authentic story.

“Doing this project comes from a very positive rather than a negative point of view,” Nash told THR. “This is not just a matter of dueling Hollywood projects.”

Yeah, right.

Even THR reports sees the potential spin for Nash whose project may garner support simply because it’s an alternative to Gibson:

That antipathy could provide an advantage for Nash’s project, which, unlike the Gibson effort, already has a finished script by Scott Abbott, who wrote the HBO movie Winchell and co-wrote Introducing Dorothy Dandridge for the cable network.

While Christmas has been represented extensively in TV and film—most recently in the Catherine Hardwicke-directed The Nativity Story—Hanukkah has yet to claim its own holiday classic. The Nash-Abbott version is clearly counting on the support of those in the industry who want to provide a take on Hanukkah that doesn’t involve Gibson—or his eight crazy nights.

For Nash, who is Jewish, the project is personal: “I’m proud of my religion and this story is about heroism, courage and sacrifice,” he said. “I thought it was an important story to share with people of all faiths. For me this project is a lifetime in the making.”