×

Ashley Judd, Neil Patrick Harris to Star in Biopic on Anti-Gay Activist Anita Bryant (EXCLUSIVE)

Ashley Judd and Neil Patrick Harris will star in “Anita,” a long-gestating biopic of Anita Bryant, the TV pitchwoman and singer who campaigned against local anti-discrimination ordinances in Florida, inadvertently igniting the gay rights movement.

Chad Hodge, creator of TNT series “Good Behavior,” will write and direct, and Howard Rosenman (“Call Me by Your Name”) and Darren Star (“Sex and the City”) produce. Mimi Steinbauer’s Radiant Films Intl. has boarded sales and is at Cannes with the project.

Bryant was a singer and spokesperson for orange juice and the Florida Citrus Commission. She fronted a campaign in the late 1970s called Save Our Children that advocated against rules prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, tanking her career in the process. While researching the history, Hodge spent significant time with Bryant in her Oklahoma home, and that element is recounted in the movie. Harris plays Hodge as he meets Bryant, who is played by Judd.

“As a gay man and a writer who likes to explore complex, messy characters, I’ve always thought about Anita Bryant,” Hodge said. “How could this celebrity who espoused Christian goodness and orange juice through song suddenly use those platforms to go on a nationwide anti-gay crusade and overturn gay rights laws? I wanted to find out who Anita was, who the people around her were, and what everybody wanted out of this.”

He added that the story has a contemporary resonance and “holds up a mirror, and a warning, to our current society.”

“Chad has one simple goal with this film — to tell the truth,” Steinbauer added. “Ashley and Neil are perfectly cast to explore this complicated, conflicted person and to give audiences the opportunity to see first-hand how Anita’s actions led to a movement that is still prevalent and necessary 42 years later.”

Principal photography starts in September. Tim Duffy will also produce. Michael W. Gray will exec produce.

There have been several efforts to get films and series about Bryant off the ground, including one from Hodge and Star for HBO. There is archive footage of Bryant in “Milk,” and she appeared in person in Michael Moore film “Roger and Me.” Lawrence Kasdan was reported to have a film about Bryant for Amazon Studios in the works in 2018.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

    Film News Roundup: Stephen King's 'Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon' Movie in the Works

    In today’s film news roundup, a Stephen King horror movie is in the works, “Downton Abbey” is seeing strong sales and a project about Revolutionary War soldier Deborah Sampson is in development. KING ADAPTATION Stephen King’s “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon” has been set up as a movie at George A. Romero’s Sanibel Films, [...]

  • Moviepass

    MoviePass Confirms Security Issue With Customer Records

    MoviePass, the struggling movie ticket subscription service, has confirmed a security issue may have exposed customers’ records. In a statement, MoviePass said Wednesday that the security lapse was recently discovered and its system was immediately secured. Reports of the data breach first surfaced Tuesday through the Tech Crunch site, which alleged that tens of thousands [...]

  • Matthew Modine

    Matthew Modine Accused of Violating Labor Laws With Campaign Videos

    Matthew Modine has been accused by SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris of violating federal laws in his campaign to unseat Carteris. The production of three campaign videos for Modine by the for-profit New York Film Academy — on whose board Modine sits — has been blasted by Carteris for alleged violations of federal labor law prohibiting [...]

  • Ready or Not Movie

    'Ready or Not,' 'Angel Has Fallen' Enter Box Office Race

    Three more contenders are joining what has lately been a hostile box office arena. Can anyone emerge from August victorious? Fox Searchlight’s “Ready or Not,” a black comedy about a diabolical game of hide-and-seek, will debut in 2,244 North American theaters on Wednesday. The low-budget film is expected to earn upwards of $6.5 million over [...]

  • Rules Don't Apply

    Warren Beatty and Arnon Milchan Settle Suit Over 'Rules Don't Apply' Flop

    Arnon Milchan and Warren Beatty have settled their two-year legal battle over the disastrous release of “Rules Don’t Apply,” Beatty’s period drama about Howard Hughes. Milchan’s attorneys have filed a notice with the court dismissing his suit against Beatty. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Milchan’s company, New Regency, sued Beatty and other investors [...]

  • Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a

    Bolsonaro LGBTQI Outburst, Subsidy Freeze, Stirs Outrage

    Ramping up the drive into censorship in Brazil, its Minister of Citizenship, Omar Terra, has suspended a call for applications for governmental TV funding – until new criteria are established for its application. The country’s secretary for culture, Henrique Pires, who reports to Terra, has resigned in protest of the incentive freeze. The suspension, for [...]

  • Adam Brody'Ready or Not' film premiere,

    Adam Brody to Executive Produce, Star in 'The Kid Detective'

    “Ready or Not’s” Adam Brody has signed on to star in “The Kid Detective.” Sophie Nelisse will co-star in the dramedy from writer-director Evan Morgan. Brody will star as a once-celebrated kid detective, now 31, who continues to solve the same trivial mysteries between hangovers and bouts of self-pity until a 16-year-old client (Nelisse) brings [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content