Neeson urged to skip role as 'infamous pedophile propagandist'
One of Hollywood's leading men is risking his reputation with a plan to portray the "father of the sexual revolution," Alfred Kinsey, contends a chief critic of the late researcher.
The Francis Ford Coppola biographical drama, set to begin production next spring, has tapped Irish-born star Liam Neeson to bring to life a man researcher Judith Reisman calls the "most infamous pedophile propagandist in scientific history."
The screenplay, with the working title "Kinsey's Report," was written by Oscar-winner Bill Condon of "Gods and Monsters" fame, who also will direct the film.
Condon, who says there would be "no Playboy or Dr. Ruth without [Kinsey's] liberating effects," promises it will not be an "art-house movie."
"I hope it's one of those movies that speaks about things," he said in an interview published by E! online. "It does feel like it's time to remind people of Kinsey's ideas, which I think are liberating. I hope there's an exhilarating feeling you get when you come out of the theater."
But Reisman, author of "Kinsey: Crimes & Consequences," has sent an open letter of warning to Neeson, asserting that the film will place him in "a hideously inaccurate role, much like playing the monster Mengele as a mere controversial figure."
She wrote: "Mr. Neeson, an appealing and respected actor like you surely does not wish to be known for celebrating a man who directed massive child sexual abuse."
An assistant to Neeson's agent Ed Limato said Thursday that Reisman's letter was forwarded to the actor's "people," but they "cannot guarantee a response."
But later in the day, according to Reisman, Neeson's office requested a copy of her book and of a film produced by Britain's Yorkshire Television called "Kinsey's Paedophiles."
Reisman, who has critiqued Kinsey's research for more than 20 years, says Kinsey increasingly is discounted by scholars as a "pathetic sexual psychopath" whose data were derived from an unrepresentative proportion of the population – mostly prison inmates and sex offenders, including pedophiles. Kinsey concluded, for example, that 69 percent of white males had had at least one experience with a prostitute.
Kinsey biographer James H. Jones, former adviser to the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, has admitted that Kinsey, the father of three children, was not the conventional academic and family man the university presented, but was sexually compromised. In his 1997 book "Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life," which was excerpted by New Yorker magazine, the author describes the sex researcher as a sadomasochistic homosexual on a perverted mission. Kinsey produced pornography in his attic – filming his wife, male staff and their wives as performers – and sexually harassed his male students.
Reisman notes that Kinsey, who died in 1956, is praised by the North American Man-Boy Love Association for creating the "data" that support "the struggle we fight today." She finds his work as the basis for weakened laws and cultural norms that have helped foster a sharp rise in sex crimes against children, noting that 58,200 abductions by non-family members were recorded by the FBI in 1999, most of which involved sexual victimization.
In 1981, Reisman delivered a paper to the 5th World Congress on Sexuality, charging that the Kinsey Reports contained a record of human experiments conducted by pedophiles on hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children. The Kinsey study has been used to support the contention that sexual activity in children is natural and healthy and should not be repressed.
She points to pages 160-161 of Kinsey's 1948 book "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male," in which the children's "screams," their "convulsions," their "hysterical weeping," "fighting" and "striking the partner (adult)" are judged by Kinsey as reflecting "definite pleasure from the situation."
Kinsey Institute director John Bancroft maintains that the institute "has never carried out sexual experiments on children, either during Alfred Kinsey's time as director or since."
He has acknowledged, however, that the data on "speed of orgasm" and other details in Tables 31-34 of Kinsey's 1948 book could only have been collected through illegal activity. In a 1998 paper by Bancroft called "Kinsey and Children," he says the information "came from the carefully documented records of one man." Kinsey referred to the man as "Mr. Green," a pedophile who kept meticulous records of the 800 boys he molested between 1917 and 1948.
Reisman maintains, however, that the 1998 documentary "Kinsey's Paedophiles," which has never been shown in the U.S., documented that Kinsey solicited information from and directed the data gathering of many pedophiles.
"Mr. Bancroft eagerly dodges the fact that whether Kinsey used one rapist to tell the world that child sex is normal, or whether he recruited many rapists – which he did – it doesn't change the fact that there isn't a shred of scientific data that would support the notion of child sexuality," Reisman told WND.
In response to a 1998 resolution by the Indiana state legislature urging the assembly to not appropriate public funds to the institute, Bancroft said of Kinsey:
"He can be criticized for making use of information about children's sexual responses obtained from individuals who were criminally involved with those children, not because it was improper to do so, but because of the uncertain validity of such information. But the large part of his work remains a supreme example of dedicated scientific research which continues to be important and useful to all of those who are researching in the field."
Bancroft maintained that "however much Kinsey's scientific curiosity may have misled him, he did nothing wrong, 'criminal,' or 'fraudulent.' Some have criticized him for not reporting this man to the police. Any tendency to do such a thing, with this research subject or any other, would have been contrary to the whole ethical basis of his project, in which he persuaded people to share their sexual secrets in return for a guarantee of confidentiality."
Playing real people
Empire Online, which calls itself the UK's No. 1 film website, says of the Kinsey movie: "With production ready to start next March, ready yourself for a touch of sexual perversity, a measure of gender confusion and every kind of reproductive action. All in the name of scientific research, of course."
A recent interview with Neeson in the London Observer newspaper noted that the actor's best roles have been historical and eponymous figures, such as Oskar Schindler in "Schindler's List." When the interviewer described characters Neeson has played – such as Schindler, Rob Roy and Michael Collins – as men "struggling to do the right thing, despite their predisposition, usually in the face of societal constraints," the actor replied:
"In fact, next year, I'm gonna play Alfred Kinsey, the guy who did all the research on sexuality and sexual politics in America in the '50s. His results were astounding. Really big stuff. He got on the cover of Time magazine."
Neeson said he does not set out to play real people.
"What usually motivates me is the quality of the writing," he said. "But yeah, I guess I may subconsciously seek them out. These are people who stand for something, something that is good to remind audiences of. They had a code of ethics that you perhaps don't find anymore."
Academy Award-winning actors Russell Crowe, Tom Hanks, Kevin Spacey and Harrison Ford "all flirted with the lead role in one of the hottest scripts making the rounds," according to Anderson Jones in his "Movie Scoops" column on E! online. George Clooney was asked to take the Kinsey role, but passed, according to Jones, who called the film project "a provocative, erotic and potentially controversial movie."
"Kinsey is this amazing character," said director Condon, according to Jones' report, "very, very complicated. It's an interesting, difficult part to cast. When it comes to sex, people come with a lot of baggage, and the challenge will be getting the baggage that fits Kinsey's. You need an actor who will bring you inside this character."
Condon said he also considered Ralph Fiennes, Jeff Bridges and Michael Douglas for the role.
Jones commented that the Kinsey film "appeals to actors looking for a challenge, because it's craftily structured around a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards, features explicit discussions about sexuality and hints of Kinsey's widely reported bisexuality."
The script is not new, Jones said. About 10 years ago, screenwriter Michael Davis wrote another script called Kinsey, which turned out to be a "practically unreadable light comedy that mined laughs from Dr. Kinsey's 'embarrassing' sexual peccadilloes."
The film, financed by Myriad Pictures, will be released in the U.S. by MGM's United Artists division. "Kinsey" is one of five Myriad-financed films to be produced by Coppola's American Zoetrope studios. The Hollywood Reporter notes that three of the five come from openly homosexual artists, including Condon.
Much at stake
For the Kinsey Institute, according to Reisman, the film likely will be seen as a boon to the institute's attempts to bolster Kinsey's reputation in the face of mounting criticism of his character and work.
"The Kinsey Institute is in very serious rehabilitation mode," Reisman said, noting that at a 50th anniversary celebration of Kinsey's first book, in 1998, an academic in the field of "sexology" stated that if Kinsey were undermined, it would "undermine everything we had been working on for all these years."
Bancroft announced in 1998 that the Ford Foundation had supplied a grant to help fund a media-relations firm to plan "a proactive strategy to counter the ongoing campaign to shut down the Kinsey Institute and discredit its founder."
In her book "Kinsey, Crimes, & Consequences," Reisman shows how Kinsey and his sex reports of 1948 and 1953 undergird the entire modern academic sexology field, including institutions such as Planned Parenthood and SIECUS, the Sex Information and Education Council of the U.S., which helped launch sex education in schools when it was founded in 1964.
The Kinsey Institute is clearly uneasy about probes into the Kinsey archive, according to one of Kinsey's most recent biographers, Englishman Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy.
In the Yorkshire film production on Kinsey, produced by award-winner Tim Tate, Gathorne-Hardy tells how he was given access to Kinsey's March 1956 files, which show the sex researcher's use of pedophiles.
Describing the Kinsey Institute as "nervous" because "its funding depends a lot on its reputation," Hardy said director Bancroft demanded that Hardy swear he never personally saw the documents.
Hardy's typewritten notes regarding the exchange with Bancroft said:
Must be written as if information got from [former director] Paul [Gebhard] and Bancroft. ... Don't reveal that [Kinsey] went on gathering histories [from these pedophiles] until 1954. Hardy's notes on the file indicate several active pedophiles on Kinsey's list of aides:
[Kinsey] was deeply influenced by five pedophile headmasters who were quite clear they had very warm relationships, loving relationships with young adolescent boys of 12 or 13. In her letter to Neeson, Reisman warned that Yorkshire Television would want to reissue its "unflattering documentary should you make this film."
"Please disengage yourself from this unworthy production, and please feel free to contact me should you want to talk or to see the extant documentation on any and all of the statements above," Reisman wrote. "Thank you."
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