Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan may be best known for his work in the Star Wars franchise – he co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back, Return Of The Jedi and the currently in release Solo: A Star Wars Story among others – but he will be taking on a decidedly down to Earth project next. The Hollywood Reporter is stating that Kasdan will be writing a directing and biopic about noted 1970s and `80s bigot Anita Bryant for Amazon Studios.
Bryant started off her career by coming in second runner-up in the 1959 Miss America beauty pageant at the age of 19. She was able to parlay that into a singing career, where she ultimately sang at the graveside services for President Lyndon Johnson. In 1969, she became the spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Commission and for a brief time became synonymous with orange juice thanks to her numerous commercial appearances.
But in the late 1970s, Bryant’s ugly side appeared as she began speaking out against anti-discrimination laws that included prohibitions on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Her position as the head of the Save Our Children coalition is most likely the inspiration for what has become the punchline for overwrought hand-wringing over perceived dangers to morality – “Won’t someone think of the children!” Her controversial stances came at a cost. Gay rights groups organized boycotts of orange juice and in 1979, the Florida Citrus Commission allowed her contract to lapse. The following year, Bryant divorced her husband of twenty years, Bob Green, a move that did not go over well with large sections of her predominantly evangelical audience.
Currently, Bryant is living in retirement and perhaps with the knowledge that her anti-gay campaign was ultimately a failure. But unfortunately, it seems that Kasdan’s film is somewhat timely thanks to a renewed rise of intolerance towards minorities that this country has seen over the past couple of years.
Outside of his work in the Star Wars galaxy, Kasdan scripted Raiders Of The Lost Ark and The Bodyguard as well as wrote and directed The Big Chill and the westerns Silverado and Wyatt Earp.