Star Wars writer making biopic about anti-gay campaigner Anita Bryant

Star Wars writer Lawrence Kasdan is making a biographic film about US anti-gay campaigner Anita Bryant.

Bryant, a former pop singer, became a prominent and outspoken opponent of gay rights in the 1970s, leading an aggressive media crusade against the early LGBT movement, comparing gay people to dogs and linking homosexuality to paedophilia.

The evangelical ‘Save Our Children’ activist’s campaign for moral purity are credited with hindering early successes on gay rights, as well as leading to a rise in homophobic sentiment that took decades to address.

She will be the subject of a new film from Lawrence Kasdan, best known as the long-term screenwriter for the Star Wars franchise, who co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, and Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Anita Bryant (Public Domain/Florida Memory Project)

According to Hollywood Reporter, Kasdan has signed up to write and direct the film for Amazon Studios, the same studio behind transgender-themed TV show Transparent.

The outlet reports that Milk producer Bruce Cohen is also signed on to the project – his second film to date featuring Bryant, who was portrayed as an antagonist of gay politician Harvey Milk in the 2008 Oscar-winner via archive news footage.

Kasdan, Allison Sarofim, Stuart Parr, Hunter Hill will also produce.

Anita Bryant, now 78, lives in Oklahoma with her second husband and heads fundamentalist group Anita Bryant Ministries International.

Anita Bryant with a sailor during the Bob Hope show on the flight deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) on 26 December 1965 (US Navy)

It is unclear if she will have any involvement in the film.

It is not the first time a biopic about her life has been planned.

A previous project based on Bryant was in development in 2013 with Kill Bill‘s Uma Thurman attached to play the lead, but never made it into production.

Bryant was born to a religious family in Oklahoma in 1940 and began making her name as a beauty queen in the 1950s.

Anita Bryant (Florida Memory Project)

She had a number of hits as a singer and became a celebrity spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission, with the tagline: “Breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine.”

Bryant became a controversial figure in the 1970s, when she rallied against a Miami-Dade ordinance outlawing discrimination against gays. The ordinance was not reinstated until 1998.

Leading a coalition called Save Our Children, which encouraged other cities to protest anti-discrimination measures, she claimed that gays would “recruit” children.

She said at the time: “As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children.”

(Word Records)

She also claimed: “If gays are granted rights, next we’ll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St Bernards and to nail biters.”

She successfully repealed the Miami-Dade ordinance and Save Our Children was heralded as the beginning of anti-gay activism.

In response to the movement, gay bars across America boycotted orange juice.

Bryant eventually lost her Florida Citrus Commission deal and filed for bankruptcy.