LOS ANGELES – An upcoming film about the "father of the sexual revolution" is already making some hot and bothered.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Alfred Kinsey chronicled the sexual habits of everyday Americans. His controversial findings were both condemned and praised.
Now the pending film is drawing fire from critics who say Kinsey was a pedophile propagandist.
"Dr. Kinsey went out, found pedophiles, cultivated them, coveted them and directed them in their sexual activities and their atrocities against children," charged Judith Reisman, author of Kinsey: Crime & Consequences: The Red Queen and The Grand Scheme.
A coalition of child-protection groups tried to place an anti-Kinsey ad in the entertainment trade magazine Variety, but the publication refused to run it, calling the ad inappropriate.
Now, people on both sides of the issue are lining up to defend or attack both the project and the legacy of the controversial sex researcher.
Reisman has organized a publicity campaign denouncing the movie project and accusing Kinsey of directing the rape and abuse of children.
Others are stunned by the charges against a man who they say broke down barriers and started an open dialogue about sex for the first time.
"I frankly find it outrageous that he would be vilified at this time in history," said Dr. Alexander Taylor, a sex therapist in Los Angeles. "He was a pioneer and what he did was very valuable."
The Kinsey Institute said in a written statement to Fox News that Dr. Kinsey's research provided invaluable knowledge that for a half century improved the sex lives of millions of men and women.
In 1944, Alice Ginott Cohn joined thousands of women who openly discussed a subject most others only whispered about: sex. The result of those interviews was Alfred Kinsey's landmark book Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, which shocked the world in 1953 with its explicit revelations. Countries banned it. Churches berated it. Some scholars scoffed.
"He was courageous. He should be commended for his contributions," said Ginott Cohn, now 78, of New York City.
The book came five years after Kinsey published a book on male sexuality that created a stir of its own. But if the first book sparked a flame of controversy, the second book ignited an inferno.
The U.S. Army in Europe banned Sexual Behavior in the Human Female from its library shelves. South African customs officials prohibited bookshops from selling it without permission. Priests admonished parishioners in the Owensboro, Ky. Catholic Diocese against reading the book or its reviews.
Edward Laumann, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago said the Kinsey report "was a cultural event of enormous consequence."
Now the film about this controversial figure is causing another storm.
After Variety refused to run the detailed charges against Kinsey, radio talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who was one of the ad's contributors, attacked Hollywood as irresponsible.
"My concern is that Hollywood needs to have some level of responsibility somewhere for making sure when they represent a piece of history or a man like Kinsey that they fairly show the whole truth," Dr. Laura said.
The Kinsey Institute said in a written statement that they support the film as long as it is thoughtful and well researched.
Bill Condon, an Academy Award-winning screenwriter who also wrote the acclaimed film version of Chicago, is writing and directing Kinsey, currently in pre-production. United Artists is reportedly backing the film, which is expected to star Liam Neeson.
Condon would not comment on the controversy, but said in a press release: "(Kinsey) is mostly forgotten today, but I think he's one of the most influential figures of the last century. He changed the way America thinks about sex, and the way we talk about it."
Kinsey died in 1956, derided by some and praised by others.
"He is regarded as the scapegoat," said John Bancroft, director of Indiana University's now-named Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, "the antichrist, for the moral decline in America over the last 50 years, which of course is ridiculous."
Fox News' Amy C. Sims and The Associated Press contributed to this report.