Movie, Book Planned About Jim Obergefell’s Historic Same-Sex Marriage Fight

Jul 8, 2015

20th Century Fox has bought movie rights about how Over-the-Rhine resident Jim Obergefell and  Cincinnati attorney Al Gerhardstein won the Supreme Court ruling for same-sex marriage last month.

The New York Times says the studio also obtained film rights to “21 Years to Midnight,” the book Obergefell and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Debbie Cenziper plan to write about Obergefell’s relationship with John Arthur, his partner of more than 20 years. The two married in 2013 in Maryland, where same-sex marriage was legal, when Arthur was in the final stages of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease. He died later that year.

Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen – both producers on the “Twilight” movies and “The Fault in our Stars” – will produce the film, according to wire reports.

Next the studio will search for a screenwriter to work with Obergefell and Cenziper.

A proposal for “21 Years to Midnight” has been submitted to publishers. The book has not been written. A publishing deal is “expected as soon as this week,” the Times says.

Writer Cenziper has known Obergefell for 20 years. Her first husband was a cousin to Arthur, she told the Times. Cenziper won a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for housing corruption stories in the Miami Herald.

With the clout of 20th Century Fox and producers from the “Twilight” series, chances are good that a film actually will be made. Just because someone sells movie rights doesn’t always guarantee the story will be seen on the big screen.

Former WCPO-TV anchor Pat Minarcin sold rights to his Channel 9 investigation of serial killer Donald Harvey in the 1980s, but the movie was never made. More than a year ago, a promotional trailer was shot for a movie about the Kings Schools’ Firecrackers jump rope team –but the film hasn’t been cast or shot.  In the 1990s Steven Spielberg talked about making a movie about growing up in Cincinnati from a script written by his sister. The USA Network cable channel announced an unauthorized Marge Schott bio movie in the 1990s, but scuttled the project after developing a script. 

Two films announced by the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Film Commission in 2012 have never been filmed: “A Doll’s House” with Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley from director Charles Huddleston and “Johnny Longshot” from director-star Emilio Estevez.