Amazon Studios and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment are developing a limited series based on “The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. The United States of America,” historian Eric Cervini’s New York Times bestseller. The book tells the story of Frank Kameny, a Department of Defense astronomer in the 1950s who became a leading figure in the fight for LGBTQ civil rights when he sued the federal government after being fired because he was gay.
Tony-winning playwright Matthew López (“The Inheritance”) is set to adapt, Variety has exclusively learned. “When I first read Eric’s book, I knew I wanted to adapt it for television. And when I first met Eric, I knew I had found the right creative partner to help me bring it to life,” López says. “So much of American queer history is told from a post-Stonewall perspective, but Eric’s book provides an essential understanding of that vital period prior to Stonewall — about the work and the lives of the people who (for better and for worse) planted the seeds of queer liberation,” he continues, calling the book “something akin to an ‘origins story’ for modern American queer history.”
“Deviant’s War,” a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History, also chronicles gay activism’s ties to the Black Freedom Movement, the New Left, lesbian rights and trans resistance as well as Kameny’s co-founding of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., to protest the persecution of gay federal employees.
“It is the honor of a lifetime to work with my creative heroes, including the writer of ‘The Inheritance’ and the producers of ‘Moonlight,’ to tell the story of Frank Kameny’s battle against the gay purges of the 1950s and 1960s,” says Cervini, whose new LGBTQ history docuseries “The Book of Queer” premieres on Discovery+ June 2. “Today, amid a nationwide attempt to erase our history and our existence, we have much to learn from such a brilliant yet deeply flawed historical figure.”
López, who signed an overall television development deal with Amazon Studios in October 2020, is in pre-production for his feature directorial debut on LGBTQ comedy “Red, White & Royal Blue,” based on Casey McQuiston’s novel of the same name. He is also working on a reimagining of the 1992 box office hit “The Bodyguard” for Warner Bros. as well as a film adaptation of “Leading Men,” a novel about Tennessee Williams and his longtime partner Frank Merlo, for Searchlight Pictures.
“The Deviant’s War” won the Publishing Triangle’s Randy Shilts Award for gay nonfiction. Cervini also serves on the board of advisors of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., a non-profit that works to preserve LGBTQ history.