Brad Pitt joins Dustin Lance Black's '8'

Play reading to stream this Saturday on YouTube


Today, The American Foundation for Equal Rights and Broadway Impact announced the addition of Golden Globe-winner and Academy and Emmy Award-nominee Brad Pitt to the cast of the West Coast premiere reading of the play "8." The reading is an unprecedented account of the Federal District Court trial in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (now Perry v. Brown), the case filed by AFER to overturn Proposition 8, which stripped gay and lesbian Californians of the fundamental freedom to marry.

AFER and Broadway Impact are also pleased to announce that the performance will be streamed live on YouTube, beginning at 7:45 p.m. PST (10:45 EST) this Saturday, March 3. A pre-show will begin on YouTube at 7:30 p.m. PST (10:30 EST). Rob Reiner, director of Saturday's performance, recorded a video explaining the reading of the play and inviting people to watch the live stream. The live stream of the West Coast premiere reading of "8" and Rob Reiner's video can both be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/AmericanEqualRights.

"At long last each and every American will be able to see for themselves what happens when prejudice and fear are put on trial in a court of law," said AFER Board President Chad Griffin. "For over two years, the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8 have fought tooth and nail to hide their discriminatory arguments from the American people. But on Saturday night, thanks to YouTube and our incredible cast, people across the nation, from Los Angeles to Little Rock to Baltimore, will get to watch as our Constitution's promise of liberty and equality for all is protected."

Written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter and AFER Founding Board Member Dustin Lance Black and directed by acclaimed actor and director and AFER Founding Board Member Rob Reiner, "8" will have its West Coast premiere reading on Saturday, March 3, 2012, at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles. Bryan Singer, acclaimed director of The Usual Suspects and X-Men, is Saturday night's presenting sponsor. The benefit event will support the fight to secure full federal marriage equality.

Black, who penned the Academy Award-winning feature film Milk and the film J. Edgar, based "8" on the actual words of the trial transcripts, first-hand observations of the courtroom drama and interviews with the plaintiffs and their families.

Brad Pitt will star as United States District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker, who found Proposition 8 unconstitutional after presiding over the historic twelve-day public trial.

Pitt joins an all-star cast led by Academy and Golden Globe Award-winner and Emmy Award-nominee George Clooney and Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Martin Sheen as Plaintiffs' lead co-counsel David Boies and Theodore B. Olson, the renowned attorneys who notably faced-off in Bush v. Gore.

Academy, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Christine Lahti and Golden Globe Award-winner Jamie Lee Curtis will star as plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, a lesbian couple together for eleven years and the parents of four boys. Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony Award-nominee Matthew Morrison and acclaimed White Collar television star Matt Bomer will play plaintiffs Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, a gay couple together over ten years.

Golden Globe Award-winner and Emmy Award-nominee Kevin Bacon will play Charles J. Cooper, the lead attorney for the anti-marriage proponents of Proposition 8. Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Jane Lynch will star as prominent opponent of marriage equality Maggie Gallagher, co-founder and former chairman of the National Organization for Marriage. Academy, Golden Globe and Grammy Award-nominee John C. Reilly will play David Blankenhorn, founder and president of the Institute for American Values.

Additional roles will be played by Emmy Award-winning journalist Campbell Brown; Golden Globe Award-winner, SAG and Emmy Award-nominee Chris Colfer; Emmy Award-nominee Jesse Tyler Ferguson; prominent gay rights activist Cleve Jones; Tony Award-nominee Rory O'Malley; acclaimed Star Trek television and film star George Takei; Emmy Award-winner Yeardley Smith; and Vanessa Garcia, Jansen Panatierre, James Pickens, Jr. and Bridger Zadina.

The Los Angeles reading of "8" comes just weeks after a landmark decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upholding the historic August 2010 ruling of the Federal District Court that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit concluded:

"Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort."

The story for "8" is framed by the trial's historic closing arguments in June 2010, and features the best arguments and testimony from both sides. Scenes include flashbacks to some of the more jaw-dropping moments from trial, such as the admission by the Proposition 8 supporters' star witness, David Blankenhorn, that "we would be more American on the day we permitted same-sex marriage than we were on the day before."

"People need to witness what happened in the Proposition 8 trial, if for no other reason than to see inequality and discrimination unequivocally rejected in a court of law where truth and facts matter," said Black. "I've built my career around exposing and uncovering 'the real story.' The goal of '8' is to show the world that marriage equality is a basic constitutional right and that those who would deny this basic freedom from loving, committed couples have only vitriol and baseless hyperbole to fall back on. The facts are on our side and truth always finds the light. We are doing all we can to help speed that process along."

"Because this case involves the constitutional rights of millions of people, it is especially important for the public to see what happened during the trial," said AFER Executive Director Adam Umhoefer. "Both sides had an equal opportunity and ample resources to assemble their strongest teams and put forth their absolute best arguments in an impartial setting. Viewed side-by-side there is simply no question that there was only one decision the court could have reached. The moment we knew the trial would not be publicly broadcast we immediately began planning to find a way to show the world what happened in this historic case. This play and our partnership with YouTube and Broadway Impact allow us to do exactly that."

"8" had its much-heralded Broadway world premiere reading on September 19, 2011, at the sold-out Eugene O'Neill Theatre in New York City. The benefit brought in over $1 million to support AFER's efforts to achieve full federal marriage equality.

Throughout 2012, AFER and Broadway Impact are licensing "8" for free to colleges and community theaters nationwide in order to spur dialogue, understanding and action. Most performances will be followed by a talkback where cast and audience members can discuss the issues presented in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial.

"I was lucky enough to watch the closing arguments of Perry v. Schwarzenegger in San Francisco," said Broadway Impact co-founder Rory O'Malley (Tony Award-nominee for The Book of Mormon). "We knew then and there that audiences needed to see and hear this story live, as we had done. '8' builds on a successful tradition of documentary theater - plays like "The Laramie Project" and "The Vagina Monologues," which inspire us with their combination of art and activism. We are thrilled to partner with AFER to bring this story to a national audience."

For more information, visit http://www.8theplay.com.

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