PHILIP POTEMPA, The Times, Munster, IN
MUNSTER, Ind. (AP) — The tragic story of a young Culver Military Academy graduate originally from Knox has been made into a one-hour documentary airing on Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable network.
The documentary, "Bridegroom," is about an umarried gay couple and what happens after one of them dies. Some reviewers have called the film a plea for marriage equality.
The film, which airs at 10 p.m. Sunday on OWN, has received considerable coverage in national media and captured the attention of both Winfrey and former President Bill Clinton.
The Times reports (http://bit.ly/18SXYXC ) that it was produced and directed by Linda Bloodworth Thomason, who also produced the "Designing Women" TV series.
"Bridegroom" debuted earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City and was financed primarily through a Kickstarter online campaign, from donations of supporters, resulting in more than $300,000 raised in a short time.
The film follows the story of young couple Shane Bitney Crone and Tom Bridegroom, the latter who was originally from Knox in Starke County.
A 2000 graduate of Culver Military Academy and then Vassar College, Bridegroommoved to Los Angeles to pursue career dreams. There he met Crone, 27, who was born and raised in Montana.
After school, Crone also moved to Los Angeles to pursue an entertainment career and became a production assistant and, later, a talent coordinator for the TV show "Entertainment Tonight."
Through a mutual friend, he met Bridegroom, an actor and musician who also worked as a photographer. After meeting in 2005, the two became friends and later shared a romantic relationship as both life partners and business partners.
Crone said they moved in together and shared everything, including a mortgage. In 2008, they pooled their money to start their own social media business.
As the documentary details, Crone's parents and family were happy about and accepting of the couple's shared life. The film depicts the opposite reaction whenBridegroom returned to Indiana in 2010 to share the personal details of his life with his parents.
Then in May 2011, while doing an L.A. photo shoot of a model on the roof of a four-story building, Bridegroom, 29 at the time, accidentally fell to his death. The documentary recounts Crone's grief, and says it was compounded by Bridegroom'sfamily rejecting him when his mother traveled to the West Coast to claim the body and transport her son back to Indiana.
Bridegroom's funeral took place at the Culver Military Academy Chapel.
In the documentary's trailer, Crone says he agreed to Martha Bridegroom's request that Crone pay for her son's body to be returned to Indiana, as well as to pay the funeral and burial expenses, but then found himself barred from attending or participating in any tribute events.
Crone says in the film that Bridegroom's parents, Norman and Martha Bridegroom, did not want to be interviewed for the documentary. The Bridegrooms did not return three phone messages left at their Knox home Wednesday and Thursday seeking comment for this story.
A news release from OWN says: "On the anniversary of Tom's death, after a year of documenting his own grief, Shane decided to make a video tribute to his partner titled 'It Could Happen to You.' The video went viral and has garnered over four million views."
The documentary by Bloodworth Thomason has received numerous accolades at film festivals nationwide.
After the documentary won an award at the Tribeca Film Festival, Bill Clinton, who attended a screening, said: "On one level ('Bridegroom') is a wonderful, sad, heartbreaking yet exhilarating and life-affirming story. And on another level, it's a story about our nation's struggle to make one more step in forming a more perfect union, for which marriage is both the symbol and substance."
"Bridegroom" airs at 10 p.m. Sunday on OWN and also will be released on Netflix the same day. www.bridegroommovie.com
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
October 27, 2013