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Published: Wednesday, 12/29/2010

'Prayers for Bobby' a must-see

The Griffiths were like many American families; a close knit and loving one that was anchored by a belief in God. That ideal world was shattered the day youngest son Bobby revealed that he was gay.

Based on the book by Leroy Aarons, this true story unfolds in Prayers for Bobby (A&E, 2008, $19.95), released earlier this month on DVD and originally produced for the Lifetime network.

Sigourney Weaver, who plays Bobby's mother, Mary, in the film, eagerly became involved in the project after reading the script and the book.

"Knowing it was a true story and such a heartbreaking story," Weaver said during a recent telephone interview, "I just knew it had to be made. People need to see this film.

"One of the great things about it was that it was on television and now it's on DVD. That means a lot of people who might not ever read the book still get exposed to the story."

When Mary, a devout Christian, learned of Bobby's sexual orientation, she retreated deeper into her religion. She prayed for a cure for Bobby's "illness" and kept the pressure on her son about changing his ways.

It was too much for Bobby, who eventually committed suicide. A stunned Mary was forced to examine her life-long views on homosexuality.

"She is an extraordinary woman," Weaver said. "Her story is so moving. After Bobby's death, she was able to change her perspective and become an activist for gay rights. She told me the whole story from her point of view. As an actor, you can't have anything better than learning from the source."

Dan Butler, an openly gay actor who plays the minister in the movie, said a film like this could not been made for television 25 years ago.

"The attitudes have gradually changed over the years," Butler said. "Still, there is an ebb-and-flow, back-and-forth with these attitudes from time to time. But we're better off than we were years ago."

Butler said the experience of working on Prayers for Danny was a rewarding one.

"Just meeting Mary Griffith was worth it," Butler said. "She is a special person who had the courage to change her ideas and become involved."

Weaver hopes the movie on DVD will have the same effect on those who watch it.

"I think of lot of the negative attitudes come from fear and ignorance," Weaver said. "It can happen in any family, even one that seems like the All-American family. I hope that's what people will understand after watching the film."

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