This was Jeff's fourth original screenplay, and like the previous three, it sold
very quickly. He wrote it to be his film directing debut, after the success of
his short, The Bruce Diet. Studio, independent and HBO producers made
offers for Custody. In the interest of reaching a broader audience, he
decided to go with an established network tv producer named Barbara
Gwen Farber and Robin Walsh live happily and quietly with their
baby daughter Louise in a small suburban town. They hire a
babysitter, an older woman from the neighborhood, who hadn't
realized they were gay. She panics and takes the baby to her
church. After a terrifying night, Gwen and Robin find them.
It becomes this church's mission to rescue Louise from her lesbian
parents. First they make Gwen and Robin's life extremely public.
Then they almost convince Robin's estranged parents to enter a
custody battle they would almost definitely win. Finally, church
members break into Robin's doctor's office and learn the identity of
the anonymous sperm donor. He's a doctor who thought he'd be
helping an infertile heterosexual couple.
The doctor and his wife decide to contest custody. Gwen and Robin
are forced to defend their lives before a family court judge who must
decide which biological parent will prevail.
Jeff directed a sold-out benefit reading of Custody for MADRE, a women and
children's human rights organization. The inviting committee included John
Sayles, Tony Kushner, Anna Quindlen, Susan Sarandon and Tim
Robbins. The cast of 17 included Brooke Smith, Joanna Going, Lois
Smith, Estelle Parsons, John Heard, David Margulies, John
Christopher Jones, Lynn Cohen and Chris McGarry.