A movie about activist Bill Baird, a pioneer in the birth-control rights movement in the United States, is in the works at Branded Pictures Entertainment and Corstoria, Variety has learned exclusively.
The project, tentatively titled “Privacy,” will focus on the 1972 Eisenstadt v. Baird U.S. Supreme Court case legalizing birth control for single people nationwide and solidifying privacy as a constitutionally protected right. The case is the single most-quoted case in Supreme Court history, cited over 50 times and serving as the basis for 1973’s Roe v. Wade, legalizing abortion, and in 2003’s Lawrence v. Texas, legalizing gay sex nationwide.
“This is a cinematic tale and a compelling character study of a man physically and emotionally abused from all sides who, despite living under constant threat of violence and who was arrested eight times in five states, sacrificed everything in a single-minded pursuit of getting the U.S. government out of Americans’ bedrooms,” said Branded Pictures Entertainment CEO J. Todd Harris.
Jameson Rich, director of development for Corstoria, said, “As a millennial who’s frustrated and frightened at the current shift in our national discourse and political direction, I believe that Bill’s story is a timely, instructive example of how one individual can affect social change. It will resonate with audiences across generations.”
Baird is serving as an adviser on the project. He was a medical school dropout who was working as clinical director at a pharmaceutical contraceptive company in 1963 when he was making a routine call to Harlem Hospital and witnessed the death of a woman from a self-attempted coat hanger abortion. The woman, a mother of nine, died in his arms.
“I vowed then to help my fellow poor gain access to the same rights and care that the wealthy were able to get back when only women of means could get birth control and family planning services,” Baird said. “That moment changed me from a bystander to an activist. Now that I see our hard-won gains under threat once again, I’m hopeful that this story will inspire the next generation to action.”
Baird was charged with a felony in 1967 for distributing contraceptive foams after lecturing on birth control at Boston University. The resulting Eisenstadt v. Baird case led to the Supreme Court striking down a Massachusetts law prohibiting the distribution of contraceptives to unmarried people for the purpose of preventing pregnancy, ruling that it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
Baird is currently working on his memoir. Corstoria, a start-up media company, optioned those rights to develop the script for “Privacy.”
“This story needs to be told with great sensitivity toward incorporating both female and male perspectives,” Corstoria president David Rich said. “We’re being purposeful in pursuing that same balance of partnership in building the production team for this movie. We see this as an essential component of telling this important story successfully.”
Branded Pictures Entertainment is a film, TV, and stage production and development company that’s focused on projects built on brands. It produced the drama “So B. It” and is developing a “Danny and the Dinosaur” movie.